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Rutgers women's soccer finishes season undefeated in Big Ten play

Freshman back Emily Mason provided an assist as the Rutgers women's soccer team finished its season with a perfect record in Big Ten play, defeating Illinois 3-0.  – Photo by Samantha Cheng

The Rutgers women’s soccer team closed Big Ten play with a flawless record, beating Illinois 3-0 yesterday afternoon.

The No. 9 Scarlet Knights (15-2-0, 10-0-0) are shattering record after record with their 11th straight win, the longest in program history. Rutgers also closes the regular season with their most regular-season wins in program history, 15.

Six Knights contributed to Saturday’s shutout. They overpowered the Fighting Illini (5-11-1, 1-8-1) early, registering eight shots within the first 13 minutes of play. Rutgers’ breakthrough goal came in the 36th minute from sophomore forward Allison Lowrey. Sophomore midfielder Sara Brocious and freshman back Emily Mason assisted the goal.

The Knights carried their momentum to the second half as senior forward Amirah Ali scored an unassisted goal to make the game 2-0.

Minutes later, senior goalkeeper Meagan McClelland lofted a pass to sophomore midfielder Sam Kroeger, who found Ali once again, giving Rutgers a 3-0 lead to end the game.

With her first career assist, McClelland also saw her ninth clean sheet of the season and third in a row — a strong finish to a historic regular season.

The Knights outshot Illinois 15-1 in total shots on goal, the Illini's highest shot on goal deficit of the season. Saturday’s match marks Illinois' fourth straight loss of conference play after their previous 3-1 loss against Nebraska.

Rutgers also earned the athletic program’s first Big Ten title since their 2014 move into the conference. The Knights are the first team since Penn State in 2005 to go undefeated and untied in conference play. 

The Knights claimed the No. 1 seed for the 2021 Big Ten Tournament. Rutgers awaits the finalized bracket release following today's remaining league matches. The Knights and the other top three seeds will host quarterfinal matches next weekend at their respective home fields.

“They stand alone as the 2021 Big Ten Champions, and it’s a testament to the hard work put in by (head coach Mike O'Neill), his staff and this amazing group of young women,” said Rutgers athletic director Pat Hobbs after Thursday’s win.

For updates on the Rutgers women's soccer team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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