After a tremendous run to the Big Ten Championship game as the 7th seed, the Rutgers women’s soccer team (11-4-6) was rewarded with at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament this afternoon. They will host Ivy League champion Harvard (10-3-3) in the first round this Saturday at 7 p.m. at Yurcak Field. It will be the first ever meeting between the two schools in women’s soccer. Rutgers has now made their fifth consecutive NCAA appearance and it’s the seventh trip in the last nine years for the program.
Rutgers upset #17 ranked Northwestern on Friday night to advance to the Big Ten Championship game for the third time in four years. After tying the game late, they ultimately lost 2-1 to host and #1 seed Minnesota yesterday afternoon. However, Rutgers did enough to earn another trip to the NCAA Tournament.
As to be expected, it will be a difficult journey to make a repeat trip to the College Cup (Final Four) for a second straight year. If Rutgers can defeat Harvard this weekend, they will play the winner of St. Francis (Pa) and #2 seed Georgetown. The Hoyas are the Big East champions and one of the highest scoring teams in the country.
If Rutgers did advance to the Sweet 16, they could potentially face a familiar opponent. Virginia is the #3 seed and the team Rutgers beat in a shootout last year to advance to the College Cup. There is also the possibility that Rutgers face rival and defending national champion Penn State in the third round match. Of course, Rutgers just beat the Nittany Lions in the Big Ten Quarterfinals last week.
Rutgers is ranked #19th in the country by Top Drawer Soccer entering the NCAA Tournament. Harvard is ranked #24th. After the women’s soccer team received a lot of support from the Rutgers faithful in the Big Ten Tournament in Minnesota this weekend, there should be a great turnout this weekend for the NCAA first round game.
Good luck to head coach Mike O’Neill and his players as they prepare for another run in tournament play.