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Rutgers women's soccer team to play No. 6 Penn State, Purdue this week

The Rutgers women's soccer team is set for a crucial week in Big Ten play. – Photo by Anushka Dhariwal

The Rutgers women's soccer team is looking to bounce back this week. The Scarlet Knights (4-3-2, 0-1-0) are coming off a road loss to Indiana in their Big Ten opener.

Rutgers will return home to Yurcak Field on Busch campus and have two opportunities to get its first conference victory this week against Penn State and Purdue.

The first match of the week for the Knights is against the Nittany Lions (7-0-1, 1-0-0). It may be an uphill battle for Rutgers as Penn State comes into the game as the No. 6 team in the country and is undefeated.

The Knights have struggled to begin this season. In the 2022 season, Rutgers began with nine straight victories, losing game number 10 to the then-No. 17 Nittany Lions. Through nine games so far, the Knights have tallied just four wins. Rutgers is looking to flip the script and spoil Penn State's undefeated season this time around.

A win for the Knights would even up the all-time series between these two teams. Across 21 games between Rutgers and the Nittany Lions dating back to 1997, the latter leads the series 9-8, and the teams have also tied four times.

Penn State has allowed just 2 goals all season. A large part of that is due to Nittany Lions' goalkeeper, Katherine Asman, who has started in all eight games and has given up just 1 goal while recording 23 saves.

As for the attack, expect a balanced attack from Penn State. An impressive 12 different Nittany Lions have scored a goal this season, with eight of them having scored at least 2 goals. For comparison, only six Knights have scored a goal this season, with just four of them having at least 2 goals.

Following the match against Penn State, Rutgers will host the Boilermakers (3-6-0, 0-1-0). Purdue certainly hasn't had the success the Nittany Lions have had, but a Big Ten matchup will always be tough, no matter what teams are involved. The Knights will need to be on their A-game.

Rutgers has struggled on the offensive side of the ball this season, while the Boilermakers have given up too many goals. Purdue is currently tied in 240 out of 336 Division I teams in goals-against average, allowing approximately 1.66 goals per game. The Knights must take advantage of a weaker defense like the Boilermakers' and do their best to get some momentum for their attack moving forward.

Kayla Budish and Gracie Dunaway are players to watch for Purdue as they lead the Boilermakers with 3 goals each.

It's going to be an important week for Rutgers as it looks to stay afloat in Big Ten play and not slip into an early hole at the bottom of the conference standings.

The week will kick off on Thursday night with the matchup against Penn State at 7 p.m. and continue on Sunday at 1 p.m. against Purdue. Both games will be broadcast on Big Ten Plus.

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

To view more of Camden Markel's work, follow @CamdenMarkel on X.

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