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Rutgers Women's Soccer NCAA Tournament 1st Round Preview vs. LaSalle

The journey begins...

How To Watch & Listen

LaSalle (17-3-2; 9-0-1) At #22 Rutgers (12-2-5; 6-2-3)

When: Saturday, November 11th at 5:00 p.m.

Where: Yurcak Field in Piscataway, New Jersey

Radio: WRSU 88.7 FM

Stream: BTN2GO

Head To Head: Rutgers leads the all-time series 8-0-1, including a 2-0 victory the last time the two programs met, which was the first round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

About LaSalle

They won the Atlantic 10 regular season title, as well as the conference tournament’s championship game over VCU 1-0 in double overtime and this is their fifth NCAA Tournament appearance in the past seven seasons. LaSalle had seven players receive postseason recognition. Madison Bower, Kristin Haugstad and Paige McDowell all earned All-A10 First Team honors. Bower led the league with 25 points, including nine goals and seven assists. Goalkeeper Larisa Zambelli enters this match with a 0.64 GAA in 22 games, including 11 shutouts and 95 saves. Head Coach Paul Royal was named the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year and has now led the Explorers to four regular season titles during his time with the program.

What To Watch For

Disrespect A Great Motivator

Rutgers is ranked 11th in the latest RPI Rankings, but received a 7th seed in its region, which would have caused a national debate if that egregious of a snub occurred in college basketball. The Scarlet Knights enter the NCAA Tournament with a nation-best 0.247 GAA, while also ranked second in team shutout percentage (0.798) with 15 clean sheets in 19 contests. Throw in the fact that Rutgers beat the Big Ten regular season champion in Ohio State and it's obvious this team is better than its seeding. However, it's up to them to prove the NCAA committee wrong and put together a deep run this month. LaSalle is no pushover and Rutgers will need to play well to win. Despite the youth of the Scarlet Knights, there is plenty of senior leadership on this team and the players should be plenty movtivated to extend their careers as long as possible.

Casey Murphy's Last Stand

Redshirt junior Goalkeeper Casey Murphy had a dominant regular season in her last campaign at Rutgers. The 2017 Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year is second in the nation in shutouts (15), GAA (0.247) and save percentage (.929). Expect her best tonight as she surely doesn't want her Rutgers career to end yet. Like in hockey, a goalkeeper in soccer can get hot and help carry a team farther than expected in postseason play. There is no better goalie to have in the net in women's college soccer than Casey Murphy and she is the biggest weapons Rutgers has.

Will Offense Click

With a strong defense and world class goalkeeper, the key to Rutgers making a deep run in this tournament is the offense coming alive. Senior captain Colby Ciarrocca and Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Amirah Ali, have the ability to lead the way, combining for 11 of the team's 30 goals this season. Brittany LaPlant, Carina Hensley, and Alaysia Lane all scored 3 goals apiece as well. These five need to step up and produce goals if Rutgers is going to have a memorable November.

Peaking At Right Time

Rutgers has advanced to at least the second round of the NCAA Tournament during its previous three appearances. Those seasons also included qualifying for the Big Ten championship game each conference tournament as well. Under head coach Mike O'Neill, the program has been consistent in peaking at the right time and winning in postseason play. Rutgers won its last three regular season games before losing a shootout to eventual Big Ten Tournament champion Penn State during a rainstorm. The almost two weeks off from game play gave the coaching staff plenty of time to get this team refocused and healthy. I expect Rutgers to bring their "A" game throughout the NCAA Tournament and if they do falter, they'll go down swinging.

No place like home

Rutgers is 9-1-2 at home this season and have been dominant at Yurcak Field during Mike O'Neill's tenure. The team will want to perform well in their last home game of the season tonight. After a long break from game action, returning under the familiar lights and cheers of their friends and family is a great thing. Hopefully, it translates on the field and Rutgers can advance to the second round of the NCAA's for the fourth consecutive season.