It was mid-August and the Big Ten coaches' poll came out. Rutgers was slotted in third place, with Penn State the choice to win the conference.
It was then late August, and the first women's soccer rankings came out. Rutgers was sitting as high as No. 22. And most people said, great. A top 25 ranking is always nice. Little did we know where we were heading.
On Sunday afternoon, the No. 9 Knights took the first step in proving both the national voters and the league's coaches just a little off in their predictions. After yielding an early goal to Minnesota, RU scored the next four en route to a 4-1 quarterfinal win over the Golden Gophers at Yurcak Field. The win moves the Knights into the semifinal round against Ohio State, a team they topped 2-1 on October 15 at home.
The other semifinal matchup sees Peen State facing Michigan. Both games will be played at Penn State, the highest seeded team remaining in the tournament. Details are below.
The Minnesota Game
"We made a mistake early (giving up a goal off a corner kick) but we stayed poised because we've been through this before and we've been able to respond well all year," said senior midfielder Hayley Katkowski. Don't get the ladies angry. Less than ten minutes later, Cassie Inacio's goal tied the game, the first of two in the opening period. It was followed in the 37th minute by Erica Skroski off a feed by Rachel Cole.
The second half saw the Knights extend their lead and continue to spread the scoring around. Two unassisted goals by Colby Ciarocca and Kenie Wright put the game comfortably out of reach of the Gophers. Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year Casey Murphy made four saves for Rutgers.
MINNESOTA GAME SCORING SUMMARY
|1.||2:56||MINN||Gaffney,Maddie (3)||(unassisted)||Kick from corner kick hits far post and in|
|2.||12:22||RU||Inacio, Cassie (4)||(unassisted)||just outside right of 18 deflects off defender inside right post|
|3.||36:40||RU||Skroski, Erica (2)||Cole, Rachel||Header off free kick|
|4.||61:03||RU||Ciarrocca, Colby (7)||(unassisted)||rebound off keeper following own shot|
|5.||77:38||RU||Wright, Kenie (1)||(unassisted)||Corner kick through the near post|
Big Ten Honors
Last Friday, the conference announced awards and Rutgers pulled in its share...well, maybe more than its share.
2015 WOMEN'S SOCCER ALL-BIG TEN TEAMS AND INDIVIDUAL HONORS
Defender of the Year: Erica Skroski, Rutgers
Goalkeeper of the Year: Casey Murphy, Rutgers
All Big Ten
First Team: Brianne Reed, Erica Skroski, Casey Murphy
All-Freshman Team: Katelyn Walters
I know, we shouldn't be doing this, but.....
The 64-team NCAA Women's Tournament begins in 11 days. The Knights are currently No. 4 in the RPI rankings, a key component of seeding for the NCAA. Last year, RU topped LaSalle in the opening round, 2-0, before losing to ultimate national-runnerup Virginia, 3-0 in the second round. The selection "show" will be on November 9 at 4:30 pm on NCAA.com. First round games are at the higher seeded team's home site. A top four seed could get the second and third rounds at Yurcak Field.
The B1G Quarterfinals
No. 1 seed Penn State defeated No. 8 Illinois on Sunday in the quarterfinals. The Nittany Lions' Nickolette Driesse, Mallory Weber and Frannie Crouse all scored goals to lead Penn State to the 3-1 victory. Penn State will entertain Michigan on Friday.
Michigan defeated No. 4 Northwestern, 1-0, in the quarterfinals. The Wolverines' Nicky Waldeck scored the lone goal with an assist from Corinne Harris. Michigan will take on No. 1 Penn State in the semifinals on Friday.
Semifinal and Final Pairings
|Friday, November 6 (at Penn State)|
|6 p.m. - BTN||Semifinal 1: No. 1 Penn State vs. No. 5 Michigan||| BTN2Go Webcast|
|3:30 p.m. - BTN||Semifinal 2: No. 3 Rutgers vs. No. 7 Ohio State||| BTN2Go Webcast|
|Sunday, November 8 (at site of highest remaining seed coming out of quarterfinals)|
|2:00 p.m. - BTN||Championship Match||| BTN2Go Webcast|
|All Times ET|