After a victory over Wisconsin in the quarterfinals, the Rutgers women’s soccer team is set to face No. 5 seed Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals this Thursday in Piscataway.
The No. 4 Scarlet Knights (16-2-0, 10-0-0) are riding a 12-game win streak heading into the matchup with the Hawkeyes (12-5-2, 5-4-1). With their 1-0 win over the Badgers (8-5-6, 3-3-4), Rutgers got payback as Wisconsin knocked the Knights out last season in the semifinals 2-1.
Sophomore midfielder Sara Brocious scored the lone goal of the match in the first half to secure the semifinal spot for Rutgers. Brocious scored the 4th goal of her 13-point season.
“This one was a really good game. Two good teams. It was a great goal by (Brocious). We created a lot of chances, and their keeper made some good saves,” said head coach Mike O'Neill.
While the Badger’s keeper did save 10 shots on goal, senior goalkeeper Meagan McClelland was able to keep the offense at bay as well. McClelland recorded the Knights’ 10th clean sheet of the season, recording her season-high seven saves.
In addition to setting an NCAA record with most career games played, senior midfielder Frankie Tagliaferri is a finalist for the 2021 Senior CLASS Award. The award honors student-athletes who work hard on and off the field. The winner is determined by a combination of Division I head coaches and nationwide fan votes. Starting now through Nov. 22, fans are encouraged to vote.
Iowa knocked out No. 4 seed Michigan State 1-0 in their previous quarterfinal match. Alyssa Walker kept the team's season alive through a 69th-minute solo goal to seal the game. Walker is her team's leading goal scorer with 9 goals and two assists during her 20 point season.
Some other Hawkeyes to watch out for are Kenzie Roling, who ranks second on the team in goals this season, and assist leader Hailey Rydberg. Roling has contributed six goals this season. Rydberg not only leads her team with seven assists but also is sixth in the Big Ten, overall.
Rutgers last faced Iowa on Oct. 10, defeating the Hawkeyes 1-0 via a penalty goal late in the second half. This Iowa squad is the lower-seeded team, but they are coming off a Big Ten Tournament victory last season.
This week the United Soccer Coaches poll saw the Knights jump two spots since last week, putting them at fourth in the nation. NCAA RPI ratings put Rutgers at third overall in the country, only behind Florida State and Duke.
The Knights will host Thursday’s at 1:30 p.m. semifinal game against the Hawkeyes on Yurcak Field. The match will be streamed on Big Ten Network+ and broadcasted for radio listeners on 88.7 WRSU.
For updates on the Rutgers women's soccer team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.