The 2021 Big Ten Tournament not only saw the Rutgers women's soccer team make it to the semifinals for the second straight year, but it was also the second year in a row that the semifinals game concluded by a score of 2-1. This year saw the Scarlet Knights (8-3-3, 6-2-3) take on Wisconsin in the third round.
Rutgers and the Badgers (7-3-3, 0-0-0) faced off for the second time this season, as Wisconsin previously beat the Knights 1-0 on March 28 in Madison.
The first half saw the same intensity from the last matchup between the two teams nearly a month ago. Both teams registered a combined five shots, three saves, four corners and 11 fouls in this half alone. The Badgers had eight first-half fouls, while also totaling all four corners.
The Knights opened the scoring on their second chance, where senior forward Nneka Moneme fired a low side shot past Bloomer for the first goal of the game at 23:43. Moneme and senior forward/midfielder Amirah Ali hooked up on the goal as Ali assisted on Moneme’s first of the tournament and third of the season.
Rutgers ended the first half up 1-0, with the Knights holding onto a possible trip to the Big Ten Championship game.
The second half started Rutgers' way, with the Knights controlling ball possession again. Rutgers totaled a corner kick and two shot attempts, with one going on goal, approximately 7 minutes into the new half.
Wisconsin capitalized on a mistake from McClelland that erased the 1-goal deficit it faced.
At 61:54, McClelland trotted out of her net approximately 30 feet, causing a mayhem play to occur with the keeper outside her crease. As McClelland got mixed up with her defense, Lauren Rice would strike home a shot into the open net, tying the game up at 1-1. Rice scored her first goal all season, getting the team back into the game.
From there, the Knights lost momentum as the Badgers flipped the script throughout the rest of the game. Freshman midfielder Sara Brocious fired a shot that bounced off both goalposts, keeping the game tied.
Soon after Kuryla's yellow card was issued, the Badgers had a scoring chance inside the Knights' zone, a chance that sent Wisconsin to the championship game.
At 85:28, with four defenders on her, Emma Jaskaniec rifled a shot to the top shelf in order to score the second go-ahead goal for the Badgers against Rutgers this season. With a score of 2-1, Wisconsin will move on to its first championship game in seven years, eliminating the Knights from the Big Ten Tournament.
As Rutgers’ Big Ten campaign comes to a close, next up comes the NCAA Tournament. The first round begins on April 27 in North Carolina, with the Knights’ first opponent to be determined.
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