After starting the season with a historic 9-0-0 record, the Rutgers women’s soccer team ended its season with a disappointing exit in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday evening. With a 1-0 loss to Brown in the No. 24 Scarlet Knights’ (13-5-2, 5-3-2) 11th straight national tournament appearance, Rutgers ended the season with a four-game losing streak.
With victories against teams such as Temple, Buffalo, LSU and Ohio State, the Knights won nine straight games to begin the 2022 campaign. Outscoring opponents 29-5 during that period, Rutgers climbed up to as high as No. 4 in the nation within the first nine games.
Sophomore midfielder Kylie Daigle scored 4 of her 5 goals in the first nine games of the year as well. The underclassmen rose to a starting role this season after a freshman season that saw her come off the bench.
Daigle's 1 of her 4 early season goals was an Olimpico goal, which went off a corner kick into the back of the cage. Another was a game-tying goal in a second-half comeback effort against the Tigers (10-3-7, 4-2-4).
While the Knights started strong to begin the season, a loss at Penn State on September 22 was the turning point for the rest of their campaign. The defensive line and graduate student goalkeeper Meagan McClelland would start the season by allowing 5 goals and finish giving up 17.
After the loss to the then-No. 17 Nittany Lions (14-4-3, 5-3-2), Rutgers was able to pick up wins against Maryland, Purdue, Indiana and Wisconsin. Even with those wins, the Knights tied with Northwestern and Minnesota in back-and-forth games.
After defeating the Badgers (11-5-3, 6-3-1) in the final regular season home game on October 16, Rutgers would not see victory for the rest of the season. As Kroeger and Lowrey took a step back following their hot starts, junior midfielder Sara Brocious and sophomore forward Riley Tiernan took the offensive charge. In losing efforts to Michigan, Michigan State and the then-No. 12 Wildcats (15-4-2, 7-2-1), Brocious and Tiernan combined for 3 goals.
At the Wolverines (7-8-3, 2-6-2), Brocious and Tiernan scored 2 first-half goals to give the Knights a halftime lead. In the second half, the team allowed 3 unanswered strikes to ultimately lose.
At the then No. 6 Spartans (17-2-3, 9-0-1), Rutgers was tied at 0-0 throughout the majority of the game until the Knights conceded the game-winning goal in the 86th minute.
Against Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament, Tiernan scored the 1st goal of the game within the first 8 minutes, but the team still lost 2-1. Rutgers would eventually drop all the way down to No. 24 in the nation, sliding down 20 spots from mid-September.
The last loss came against the Ivy League champion the Bears (13-2-2, 5-0-1) in the NCAA Tournament. As the Knights were outshot 15-10, with shots on goal being 4-3, Rutgers would get outplayed at Yurcak Field on Busch campus. The Knights eventually conceded the game-winning goal in the 81st minute to lose 1-0.
Rutgers took a step back after a historic year last season. From the College Cup to a 9-0-0 start and eventual first-round exit in the NCAA Tournament, the Knights will look to next year for a stronger season.
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