The Rutgers women’s soccer team entered the conference tournament on a losing note, after falling to Wisconsin earlier this week, resulting in a disappointing 7th place finish in the regular season. That set up a road matchup in Happy Valley against 2nd seed and defending national champion Penn State. With their season on the line, Rutgers came up with their biggest win of the season this afternoon.
Erica Murphy scored the winning goal in the 28th minute of action, putting Rutgers up midway through the first half on the road. The goal was assisted on by senior Colby Ciarrocca, her 5th of the season. Senior Madison Tiernan, named to the All-Big Ten Second Team on Friday, clinched the victory with a goal late in the second half. It was Murphy’s 4th goal of the season and Tiernan’s team leading 9th goal. Penn State never gave up, firing four shots and gaining two corner kicks in the final 10 minutes or so of play. However, Rutgers senior goalkeeper Alana Jimenez had a big game and held strong, saving six shots and notching a shutout in a must win contest.
It was a rematch of the Big Ten title game from a year ago, as well as a rematch from the College Cup semifinal from the NCAA Tournament. Penn State won both matches and the two rivals tied 2-2 earlier this season. Rutgers held a 2-0 lead in that match as well, but could not hold the lead. Today was a different story and a great win for the program. Winning on the road against the defending conference and national champs showed the true grit and heart of this team. It was also their third win over an ranked opponent.
With a 10-3-6 overall record and an RPI ranking of 27 entering this week, the win over Penn State seemingly puts Rutgers back into the NCAA Tournament. Of course, a win in the Big Ten semifinals would clinch a berth for sure. Rutgers will play the winner of #6 seed Nebraska v. #3 Northwestern on Friday, November 4th. Congrats to head coach Mike O’Neill and the entire team, as hopefully this win will spark another long run in the postseason for Rutgers!