The Rutgers women’s soccer team celebrated senior night on Saturday, finishing in a scoreless draw with Nebraska in their last home game of the regular season. Rutgers outshot the Cornhuskers 17-9 in the game and they came close to scoring a few times, including hitting the crossbar twice. It was the program’s record ninth overtime match of the season.
Rutgers now stands at 9-2-6 overall and 4-1-5 in Big Ten play. They are currently tied with Michigan for fourth place with 17 points and have just one regular season game remaining. Michigan owns the tiebreaker over Rutgers, courtesy of their 3-2 overtime victory back in late September. It is the only conference loss for Rutgers this season and they are tied with Northwestern, Minnesota and Penn State for fewest losses of any Big Ten team in conference play. Only Northwestern has fewer losses overall (13-1-3; 6-1-3) than Rutgers in the Big Ten. The two teams played to a scoreless draw on October 16th.
The Scarlet Knights finish the regular season this Wednesday on the road against Wisconsin (7-4-7; 4-2-4) at 8 p.m. and the game will be aired live on BTN. Rutgers can clinch fourth place with a win and a Michigan draw or loss. The Wolverines (9-4-3; 5-3-2) play at Indiana (7-7-4; 4-3-3) on Wednesday night as well. Regardless of what Michigan does against the Hoosiers, Rutgers needs a win to guarantee themselves a berth in the Big Ten Tournament.
For a full look at the current Big Ten standings, click here. As far as fighting for an NCAA Tournament berth, Rutgers is currently the fourth highest ranked Big Ten team in the latest RPI rankings. They are currently ranked #23rd behind Nebraska, Minnesota, and Ohio State. It is crucial for Rutgers to at least tie Wisconsin on Wednesday, in order have a good chance in advancing to the NCAA’s. Last season included a magical run to the College Cup, which is the Final Four for women’s soccer. However, Rutgers has relied on a lot of different players this year, as they’ve had to replace several key contributors from last season. Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press wrote a great profile on how the team has continued to play well this season, despite the many personnel change from last year’s team.
Rutgers honored their nine member senior class against Nebraska, which includes Jennifer Andresen, Alana Jimenez, Erica Murphy, Tori Prager, Jessica Puchalski, Allison Ryan, Jenna Seddon, Erin Smith, and Madison Tiernan. Coach Mike O’Neill had this to say about the senior class:
“It’s a pretty special night. The seniors have taken this program and have built tradition, they’ve built the standard, and that’s the expectations for players when they come here, that we want to compete for championships.”
Two standouts from the senior class have led Rutgers this season on the pitch. Madison Tiernan leads Rutgers with 21 points this season, including a team high 8 goals and is second with 5 assists. Goalkeeper Alana Jimenez has 8 shutouts this season, her first as a starter, after replacing All-American Casey Murphy, who has missed this season to play for the United States women’s U-20 National Team.
Let’s hope Rutgers can finish the regular season on a high note against Wisconsin on Wednesday and set the tone for another strong postseason run!