The Rutgers women's soccer team will face off against Wisconsin in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament on Sunday. The Scarlet Knights (9-6-3, 5-4-1) earned the No. 6 seed following their win against Northwestern last Sunday.
Since the Badgers (12-3-3, 7-2-1) earned the No. 3 seed, the match will be played in Madison, Wisconsin.
No. 16 Wisconsin will be a big test for Rutgers. The Badgers are coming into this match on a two-game winning streak, defeating Maryland and Penn State. Wisconsin's win over the Nittany Lions (12-1-4, 6-1-3) is particularly impressive as No. 6 Penn State was undefeated before its game against the Badgers.
Wisconsin is 1 of just 3 Big Ten teams that the Knights have not faced this season. Both teams will need to do their homework on one another to be prepared for their playoff matchup.
Rutgers has historically struggled against the Badgers, having a 3-6-1 all-time record against them. The Knights have won their last two meetings, though, including a 2-0 victory last October. Rutgers will look to extend its winning streak on the big stage.
The Knights' backline will need to focus much of their attention on Emma Jaskaniec, who leads Wisconsin with 10 goals and 24 points this season. Her 10 goals put her in a three-way tie for fourth most in the Big Ten.
The Badgers also have a stellar defense, as they are tied for second in Big Ten goals against. Their opponents are only scoring .61 goals per game on average.
Rutgers had a rough start to the season, particularly in conference play, but it has picked things up down the stretch. The Knights were 1-3-1 through their first five Big Ten games, but they finished off strong by winning 4 of their last 5 games in conference play.
Rutgers' late-season improvement can be, in part, attributed to redshirt freshman goalkeeper Olivia Bodmer. Bodmer allowed 8 goals through the first half of Big Ten play, but in the second half of Big Ten play, she only allowed 3 goals.
Strong performances from graduate student defender Allison Lynch and junior defender Emily Mason have complemented Bodmer's goalkeeping. Lynch has started in all 18 games this season, while Mason has started in 15 of 18 games. The two have contributed to the team's late-season improvement, and they have done a great job of keeping the ball in front of them and clearing it away when opposing forwards attack.
The matchup between the Knights and Wisconsin will kick off at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday and be broadcast on Big Ten Plus. The winner will move on to the semifinals and take on the winner of No. 2-seeded Nebraska versus No. 7-seeded Ohio State.
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