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Rutgers Women's Soccer: College Cup Preview

With this trip to the College Cup, two sports at Rutgers have had all (both) of their teams in an NCAA Final Four: basketball and now soccer. Not too shabby.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports


Rutgers has one NCAA team championship in its history.  And I'm not talking about 1869.  No, I'm talking 80 years later when, similar to that first one, we shared it.  In 1949, Rutgers and Army were co-champions in men's fencing. Fencing - one of the sports Bob Mulcahy cut in 2006.

We're looking for number two this evening.

The Women's Soccer team tries to make Rutgers history when they take on Penn State - for the third time this season - in the first semi-final game of the Women's College Cup at WakeMed Park in Cary, NC.  The second game pits defending national champion Florida State against Duke at 7:30. Both games will be aired on ESPNU.  Live scoring for the Rutgers game can be found here.  The two winners face each other on Sunday at noon in a Big Ten-ACC showdown.

Getting to this point, the team hadn't made it easy.  A regional final that was scoreless after 110 minutes.  Nine rounds of penalty kicks.  Including Rutgers' goalie, Casey Murphy, scoring on a PK.  And the final save by Murphy herself.

While technically a tie, Rutgers knocked off 2015 College Cup finalist Virginia on its home pitch in penalty kicks, 7-6.  It was the first time UVa had been shut out since last year's NCAA final.

The Knights, now 19-3-3, face a PSU squad (20-3-2) that they beat during the regular season (1-0, Oct. 18 @ Yurcak Field ) but lost to in the Big Ten tournament finals (2-0 Nov. 8 @ State College). That two-goal loss was not usual for the Knights.  Coach Mike O'Neill addressed what the team needs to do to change that result. " I think it is no different than any other game. The details are big and there were a couple of times in that game that the small little things got away from us. We never doubt their commitment to the details and working hard, but in any game whether it is Penn State or whoever we play it is important that those details are taken care of. The last time we played them [Penn State] we learned a lot. So from that point on we've been stronger because it was a game we gave up two goals. Again what we do from match-to-match is try to learn as much as we can and we bring it to the next game."

In the other bracket, Florida State comes into the semi-final at  18-2-4 while the Blue Devils are 13-5-5. In the RPI rankings, FSU is No. 1, Penn State No. 2, Rutgers No. 4, and Duke No. 13.  The coaches' poll has FSU at 2, Penn State at 6, Rutgers at 9, and Duke at 20.

The sendoff to North Carolina

There was a red carpet laid out from the entry to the Hale Center to the waiting bus.  There was a small pep band playing.  And there were members of other teams, their coaches,and athletic staff there.  And let's not ignore the state police escort to the airport....for a flight by private jet.

And they deserved that and more.  RVision caught the journey.

The College Cup Bracket

Awards & Honors

Rutgers women's soccer senior center backs Brianne Reed and Erica Skroski were named to the Team of the Week, announced Tuesday. Reed and Skroski each played the full 110 minutes of Rutgers' shutout of No. 1-ranked and national offensive leader Virginia last Friday in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals.  The shutout was the Scarlet Knights' (19-3-3) nation-leading 19th of the season.

Reed and Skroski are among numerous TDS weekly honorees this season. Reed was named to the TDS Team of the Week on Nov. 24, with Colby Ciarrocca joining her on the Honorable Mention list. Sophomore goalkeeper Casey Murphy earned the title of Player of the Week on Oct. 20, while Skroski made the squad on Sept. 8. Ciarrocca was also named honorable mention on Oct. 20.

Senior CLASS Award

Rutgers University center back Brianne Reed was selected in nationwide balloting as the 2015 Senior CLASS Award® winner in NCAA® Division I women's soccer.

The award, chosen by a vote of Division I women's soccer coaches, national soccer media and fans, is given annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in Division I women's soccer. In order to be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: classroom, community, character and competition.

"The players, staff, University and entire Rutgers family are so proud of Brianne for her accomplishment," said head coach Mike O'Neill. "This a very prestigious award, and she is very deserving."

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete in 10 NCAA sports and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.

"This is such an honor," said Reed, who is the first member of Rutgers women's soccer to win the Senior CLASS Award®. "I know this is such a prestigious award, and to be a Rutgers University representative is truly amazing. I put in a lot of hard work at this university, and for it to show on and off the field, in the classroom and in the community is truly an honor. This award speaks to our program as a whole and the kind of people we have on this team. Yes, I individually won this award, but for me it's important to leave something like this behind for the program. I've gotten so much support from my fellow student-athletes, the local community, our staff and my teammates. I'm truly grateful."

Off the field, the public health major is a three-time Dean's List selection and was named an Academic All-Big Ten honoree as a junior.