The Rutgers women’s soccer team kicked off its first Big Ten game with a 2-1 win against rival No. 8 Penn State at Yurcak Field. This win marks head coach Mike O’Neill’s 101st victory in his eighth season on the Banks.
The No. 16 Scarlet Knights (6-2-0, 1-0-0) have responded after losing two games by defeating Drexel and the Nittany Lions (6-2-0, 0-1-0) in back-to-back games.
Rutgers and Penn State had a combined seven shots in the first half, with only two of those shots being on target. Kathrine Asman was able to stop both attempts from the Knights in the first 45 minutes. Rutgers almost took the lead in the 20th minute with a high arching shot hit off the crossbar from freshman forward Riley Tiernan. The Knights were able to finish more shots in the second half.
Sophomore midfielder Sam Kroeger opened the scoring in the 62nd minute with a powerful, low-driven shot to the bottom corner assisted by sophomore midfielder Sara Brocious. Kroeger scored her fifth goal of the season, making her the second-highest goal scorer on the team and the third-highest in the Big Ten. Brocious is also tied for second in terms of assists for Rutgers.
Penn State responded 5 minutes later with a solo goal from Rachel Wasserman, who recorded her first goal of the season for the Nittany Lions.
Sophomore midfielder Becci Fluchel drilled home the penalty kick to give the Knights the lead late in the 80th minute, securing their first Big Ten win of the 2021 season.
Senior goalkeeper Meagan McClelland had three saves this match as the Rutgers defense held the Nittany Lions to four shots on goal. The game took an unexpected defensive angle from the two highest-ranked Big Ten teams and leaders in average goals per game.
The Knights have been the standard when it comes to scoring in the Big Ten this season. With the highest scoring average and goal margin in the conference, Rutgers leads the Big Ten in points. The Knights have registered the most assists in the Big Ten this season.
Rutgers will face No. 21 Michigan on Thursday at 6 p.m. on Yurcak Field.
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