The Rutgers women's soccer team finished the regular season on a roll, as they won their third consecutive game on Wednesday, beating Michigan 1-0 at Yurcak Field. Freshman forward Alaysia Lane scored the game winner on a breakaway in the 34th minute off of an assist from classmate Nneka Moneme.
Poetically, Lane scored both the first and last of the 30 goals that Rutgers scored during the regular season. 22 of them have been scored by freshman or sophomores, which bodes well for the future of the program.
Rutgers goalkeeper Casey Murphy made four saves in the victory and registered her 14th shutout of the season, the most in the country.
"I'm so proud," said head coach Mike O'Neill. "I am so proud of the team's effort that they put in on the day-to-day. I am really proud of the staff and the work they put in. It's a good (regular) season and in order to make it great you need to get to postseason. That was part of the goal and we did that."
Only eight Big Ten teams qualify for the conference tournament and Rutgers did so for the fourth consecutive year since joining the league in 2014. They have advanced to the conference championship game each of their three previous appearances.
Rutgers (12-2-4; 6-2-3) finished in a fourth place tie with Penn State (10-4-3; 6-2-3), but won the third tiebreaker, which is the best record by points against mutual opponents seeded ahead of the two schools. Rutgers beat Big Ten regular season champion Ohio State and tied second place Northwestern, while Penn State beat the Wildcats, but lost to the Buckeyes.
The Scarlet Knights will host the Nittany Lions in the Big Ten Quarterfinals this Sunday at 1 p.m. The two teams met at Rutgers and fought to a scoreless draw just two weeks ago. In the most recent RPI rankings that came out on Monday, Penn State is ranked 11th and Rutgers is 17th. A win for either side will be a big boost for improving upon their potential seeding in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
The Scarlet Knights are 9-1-1 at Yurcak Field this season and 40-3-5 overall under coach O'Neill at home in his four seasons at the helm.