The Rutgers women’s soccer team has earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament and will face off against Columbia on Sunday. The Scarlet Knights' (9-5-4, 5-4-1) season was on the line when the selection committee announced the brackets on Monday, but ultimately, the team secured an at-large bid.
Rutgers will face the No. 8-seeded Lions (9-3-3, 3-2-2), who placed fourth in the Ivy League this season. The conference was competitive, as 4 of its 8 members earned an NCAA Tournament berth. Columbia made it alongside Princeton, Harvard and Brown.
The Knights are coming into this match following a 4-1 penalty kick shootout defeat against Wisconsin in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. Prior to that loss, Rutgers had won 4 of its last 5 conference games, improving from its early season struggles.
If the Knights want to advance in the tournament, the team will need to channel the high-level play that led it to those four late-season victories.
Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Olivia Bodmer will be a key player for Rutgers. Bodmer has allowed 3 goals over her last six games and has posted four shutouts in that span. Bodmer’s play earned her a spot on the Big Ten All-Freshman Team, where she was the only unanimous selection.
Joining Bodmer on the All-Freshman Team is freshman forward Ashley Baran. She finished the season with 2 goals and an assist, but her constant motor and consistent offensive impact earned her the honor.
Baran burst onto the scene in the Knights’ last game of the regular season. In 33 minutes played, she tallied an assist and the game-winning goal in a 2-1 victory over Northwestern. The win secured Rutgers’ place in the Big Ten Tournament.
Although the players lack postseason experience, the duo of Bodmer in the back end and Baran on attack will be critical to the Knights’ success against the Lions.
Rutgers will also lean heavily on its two Second Team All-Big Ten honorees, junior forward Riley Tiernan and junior defender Emily Mason. While the two play different positions, their leadership will be crucial during postseason play.
Kat Jordan is a player that the Knights’ backline will look to contain. Jordan leads Columbia with 18 points, scoring 8 goals and tallying two assists. Jordan is one of the top players in the Ivy League and was named First Team All-Ivy.
Rutgers will also need to create scoring chances on the Lions' goalkeeper Paige Nurkin. Nurkin had a stellar 2023 season, receiving First Team All-Ivy honors alongside Jordan.
The match will be played in New York, New York, and begin at noon on Sunday.
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