The Rutgers women's soccer team earned their sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament berth on Monday afternoon. They'll host LaSalle, the Atlantic 10 conference tournament champion, this Saturday at 5 p.m. at Yurcak Field.
This will be the 12th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, including the eighth in ten years and sixth consecutive trip.
"The standard here is that we compete for championships every year,” said head coach Mike O’Neill. “To be a top program you have to have consistency in all that you do. It speaks volumes to the players that have been here in the past and the current players. We talk about the culture to compete for championships and again we have that opportunity.”
This will be the tenth meeting all-time between the two programs, with Rutgers having never lost and holding a 8-0-1 edge.
“We just have to get better every day. The only thing we have to worry about is La Salle since that is the next game,” said O’Neill. “We have to continue to improve because La Salle is a very good team, very well coached team. We expect it to be another good game.”
The Scarlet Knights lead the nation in a 0.247 goals allowed per game average and have registered 15 shutouts of their 19 games this season. Casey Murphy was recently named the Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year.
Rutgers (12-2-5) is in a loaded region, which features five teams in the top 16 of the latest RPI Rankings, including the top ranked team in the country, Stanford. They are the top seed in the region, followed by West Virginia as the two seed. Rutgers would likely face their former Big East rival in the second round if they can beat LaSalle. A potential rematch with Big Ten Tournament champion, Penn State, is possible in the Sweet Sixteen, who would likely play Georgetown in the second round. Those schools knocked Rutgers out of the last two NCAA Tournaments.
What is odd is that the fourth seed in the region, Florida State, is 16th in the latest RPI rankings. Rutgers is 11th in the latest RPI, but by being in line to play second seeded West Virginia in the second round, Rutgers appears to be seeded seventh in the region. I would love to hear the committee's logic with that decision.
Even so, this Rutgers team has proven to be resilient all season and have a solid nucleus of talent and experience entering this NCAA Tournament. Head coach Mike O'Neill will have his team ready to play, as the program looks to win a NCAA Tournament game for the fourth consecutive season.