With the 2018 season less than a month away from kicking off for the Rutgers women’s soccer team, the program formally announced a significant addition from over the summer, aside from the incoming ten player freshman class. Senior Madison Pogarch, a First Team All-MAC selection at Central Michigan in 2017, has joined the program and will be eligible to play this season. The Hartland, Michigan native brings skill and experience to an already strong Rutgers back line. From the press release:
“We are excited Madison is part of our family with all she brings to the team as a person and a player,” said head coach Mike O’Neill. “Her knowledge and passion for the game is contagious. We are looking forward to seeing her grow and I know she will make a major impact on the team.”
Pogarch, whose nickname is “Po”, started 52 of 58 games, scoring 3 goals and adding 10 assists in her three seasons at Central Michigan. She earned all-conference honors every year, being named a Freshman Team All-MAC selection in 2015 and a Second Team All-MAC selection in 2016. Pogarch also made the All-MAC Academic Team twice as well.
“I chose Rutgers because of the family atmosphere, the great academics, and the competitiveness of the Big Ten Conference,” said Pogarch. “I can achieve academic excellence as well as chase my dream to be a professional soccer player at this university and I am proud to call myself a Scarlet Knight.”
“I am honored to be able to be a part of such an outstanding back line. For me to come in as a transfer and be able to play a role is humbling, but so exciting,” said Pogarch. “I hope that I can extend the lead and legend of the back line, and to be a consistent player and teammate. I want to be someone that my teammates and coaches can count on the give their best effort and work for the entirety of the season.”
Adding to Pogarch to an already lethal back line is significant. Rutgers led the NCAA in goals against average (.267) and shutout percentage (.924) last season. The back line and All-Big Ten Goalkeeper Of The Year Casey Murphy combined to allow just six goals on the entire season, the lowest in the conference in 2017, as well as in program history. They produced 16 shutouts in 21 games.
Pogarch will join a back line loaded with talent in three-year starter Kenie Wright, two-year starter and 2016 All-Big Ten Freshman Amanda Visco, and two-year starter and 2017 Second Team All-Big Ten selection Chantelle Swaby. There is plenty of depth behind them, including junior Tiernny Wiltshire, who started five games last season, in addition to several freshman and sophomores who will compete for minutes as well.
While Murphy is gone and playing professionally overseas, whoever replaces her in goal will have an extremely talented and battle tested back line to help them learn on the job. Adding Pogarch also provides another veteran leader on the team, joining Adora Moneme, Brianna Scarola, and Wright as the only seniors among the 31 players on the roster this season.
Head coach Mike O’Neill’s team has legitimate conference title aspirations in 2018, as former Big Ten Freshman of the Year Nicole Whitley and fellow junior Taylor Aylmer, who started 21 games last season, joins Moneme in the midfield. Up front, reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year Amirah Ali, who tied for the most goals and points on the team with Colby Ciarrocca last year, is primed for a monster season. In addition, she will be flanked by junior forwards Brittany LaPlant and Carina Hendley, who were third and fourth in goals scored for the Scarlet Knights in 2017.
Rutgers will open its 2018 campaign on Friday, August 17th at Yurcak Field against Delaware. We will have plenty more on the Rutgers women’s soccer team before their quest for a championship begins in just over three weeks.