The Rutgers women’s soccer team started off the 2017 campaign with a convincing 3-0 victory over Loyola Marymount on Friday afternoon at Yurcak Field in Piscataway. LMU finished last season with a 11-5-3 record, but they were no match for the #21st ranked Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers has 21 freshmen and sophomores on the roster this season. That youth proved from the start of the game they will have a major impact on this season, as all the scoring came from that group.
The heralded 2017 recruiting class for head coach Mike O’Neill wasted little time in shining in their first game of their Rutgers careers. Freshmen forward Alaysia Lane only needed 23 minutes into her collegiate debut to net her first goal as a Scarlet Knight.
Soon after, sophomore forward Carina Hendley added another goal at the 36 minute mark. She scored two goals and had one assist in her freshman season a year ago, in which Hendley made five starts. Rutgers went into halftime with a 2-0 lead.
Right after the break, the 2016 National High School Player of the Year, Amirah Ali, scored in her Rutgers debut, giving the Scarlet Knights a commanding three goal lead just two minutes into the second half. The reigning Big Ten Freshmen of the Year, Nicole Whitney, assisted on the goal. That was all the scoring Rutgers needed, cruising the rest of the way and winning the season opener 3-0.
“It’s nice to get the season started,” said head coach Mike O’Neill. “We came out and did some good things. We scored three goals and gave up nothing. I’m happy with the result, with what we did on the attacking side and with our commitment to defending.”
Friday’s win marked the return of US National player Casey Murphy, who was recently named the top goalkeeper in the country by Top Drawer Soccer. She made 4 saves on the afternoon and tallied the 30th shutout of her career. With Murphy back in the net for Rutgers, the defense should be one of the best in the country in 2017.
The season opener was moved up from 7 p.m. to 3:30 due to the impending rain storm forecasted for Friday night.
Rutgers returns to the pitch this Sunday at 2 p.m. against Monmouth, the four time defending MAAC champ, who were an NCAA Tournament team last season. The Hawks are formidable, as they return 8 starters from a squad that won 14 games in 2016. Monmouth opened its season on Friday night at Lehigh with a scoreless tie. Rutgers owns a 14-2-1 edge over the Hawks, last playing them in a 3-0 victory in 2012.
Even though Rutgers is one game into the 2017 season, you can still read our season preview here. It includes some great insight on this team from O’Neill, Murphy, and senior captain, Colby Ciarrocca.