In the pouring rain on Sunday, Rutgers and Penn State battled for the eighth time in four seasons, including the fourth time in the postseason. After the game ended scoreless through double overtime, the Big Ten Quarterfinals would be decided by a shootout. Unfortunately, Penn State made the decisive penalty kick in the sixth frame for 4-3 shootout win. It was a heartbreaking defeat for Rutgers, who failed to advance to the conference championship game for the first time in four seasons.
"I knew it was going to be a hard game," said head coach Mike O'Neill. "We have a really good rivalry with Penn State and all the games are very, very close. We expected it to be a tough match and close match.
"In the end, it was a game that we didn't play the way that we needed to play, but we still gave ourselves a chance in the end because of one of the greatest displays of goalkeeping I have seen. We are never there if it isn't for how hard the team works, how good at the details they are and having one of the best goalkeepers in the country."
Penn State held a 21-8 edge in shots during regulation and the overtime periods combined. Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year, Casey Murphy, made seven saves in the game for Rutgers. She made them all after halftime, including two in double overtime. It was the 15th shutout of the season and 44th of her illustrious career, tying the all-time Rutgers record with Erin Guthrie, who also registered 44 shutouts in her career from 2006-09.
In the shootout, Murphy made two stops and Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Amirah Ali, tied it at 3 apiece, before Penn State scored the decisive penalty kick to win 4-3. The Nittany Lions got payback after getting knocked out of the Big Ten Quarterfinals by the Scarlet Knights last season.
Rutgers (12-2-5, 6-2-3 Big Ten) now awaits the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on Monday, November 6th at 4:30 p.m. to find out if their season continues. The latest RPI Rankings had Rutgers jump up from 17th in the country before Sunday’s game to 12th as of today. They appear to be in very good shape to make their sixth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament.