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No. 5 Rutgers women's soccer advances to Elite Eight in NCAA Tournament

Senior midfielder Frankie Tagliaferri collected an assist in the Knights' win over the Billikens in their journey to the Elite Eight. – Photo by Samantha Cheng

The Rutgers women’s soccer team coasted past Saint Louis Friday evening in a 4-0 win, advancing to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. In their Sweet 16 matchup, the No. 5 Scarlet Knights (19-3-0, 10-0-0) defeated TCU after a penalty shootout to advance to the Elite Eight.

Rutgers opened the scoring against the Billikens (13-9-1, 7-3-0) in the 3rd minute with an assist from freshman forward Riley Tiernan and senior midfielder Frankie Tagliaferri. Both combined on an early counterattack to find senior forward Amirah Ali, who finished her 10th goal of the season.

Emily Puricelli challenged the Knights' offense, matched her highest single-game saves, seven, within the first 45 minutes of play. She would finish the night doubling her previous career-high with 14 saves.

Rutgers gave Saint Louis no room to advance after halftime, scoring their 2nd goal 3 minutes into the second half. Ali assisted Tiernan's goal.

The Billikens first shot on target of the game came at the 51st minute, forcing senior goalkeeper Meagan McClelland’s first save of the game. McClelland had an uneventful match on Friday, registering only three saves on the night.

The Knights would not let up as Tiernan scored a stunning top corner finish with an assist from sophomore back Emma Misal, who recorded her second assist of the season on Tiernan’s 2nd goal of the night.

In the matchup against the No. 8 Horned Frogs (19-2-3, 7-1-1), Rutgers opened the scoring early in the first half with a goal from Ali. Sophomore midfielder Sam Kroeger bagged the assist, her fourth of the season.

TCU almost equalized before the half with a chance from Gracie Brian that was thwarted by McClelland. Brian possessed the rebound and shot once again, but her attempt was cleared off the line by senior back Gabby Provenzano.

Ali nearly doubled the Knights’ lead in the 62nd minute, but Lauren Kellett made a clutch save to keep the Horned Frogs fighting.

Camryn Lancaster showed both composure and poise in her 84th-minute goal to tie the game at 1. Brian assisted Lancaster for her 10th of the season.

The following 20 minutes of play saw two close chances of victory for both sides. TCU's Jenna Winebrenner headed the ball into the crossbar from a looping corner kick from Grace Collins. In the final 90 seconds of double overtime, sophomore midfielder Becci Fluchel stood over a 30-yard free-kick and rifled the ball off of the crossbar, bringing the game to a penalty kick shootout.

The first four shots from each team found the back of the net, but in the fifth round, the Horned Frogs made the first stop. McClelland responded with clutch hands, saving the next three tries from TCU. With one shot left to seal the victory, sophomore forward Allison Lowrey slotted home the last goal to send Rutgers to the next round.

The Knights will face No. 2 seed Arkansas on Friday. Game time is to be announced.

Editor's note: A previous version of this article stated the Knights would be playing Notre Dame.

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

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