The #24th ranked Rutgers women’s soccer team started the 2018 season with an impressive 3-0 victory over Delaware at Yurcak Field on Friday evening. While the scoring attack looked improved, the stout defense that the program is known for continued, despite the loss of All-American and last season’s Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year, Casey Murphy.
Junior forward Brittany LaPlant scored the first goal of the season for the Scarlet Knights in the 9th minute of the first half off of a pass from newcomer and graduate transfer Madison Pogarch. Soon after, Nicole Whitley gave Rutgers a 2-0 advantage off of a beautiful free kick that she put in the top left corner of the net in the 24th minute of the opening frame. At the half, RU held a 6-2 shot advantage and 5-0 on corner kicks, dominating play.
In the second half, junior Taylor Aylmer had a penalty kick tipped away in the 63rd minute by Delaware goalkeeper Kamryn Stabelin, who made seven saves in the game. Rutgers head coach Mike O’Neill made a point to approach Stabelin after the game, a sign of respect.
Delaware continued to struggle to find scoring opportunities, but had a great chance to break through with a goal in the 72nd minute. However, newly anointed starter Meagan McClelland made a tremendous save in net for the Scarlet Knights. She tipped a hard header off the crossbar and then dove to stop the loose ball, which was ultimately kicked away by Pogarch, which took a bit out of McClelland, who needed some time to recover. The true freshman has big shoes to fill, but looked the part with this gutty stop to preserve the first shutout of her career in her college debut. She made two saves on the night.
HUGE SAVE from McClelland!— Rutgers On BTN (@RutgersOnBTN) August 18, 2018
The Freshman get's a finger on the tough header from the Blue Hens and pays the price.
No. 24 @RUWSoccer is still blanking Delaware 3-0, live on @BTNStudentU pic.twitter.com/tqh7QzmhCk
Amirah Ali, the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year, capped the night with her first goal of the season in the 81st minute to put an exclamation point on the victory for Rutgers. It was a double assist by captain Kenie Wright and Pogarch, who made a strong debut of her own in scarlet on Friday.
“We were better today than we were when we played against Syracuse and Hofstra in our scrimmages. Now we need to continue to get better, while making sure that our habits and details are always there too,” said head coach Mike O’Neill. “In order for us to get better, we need to continue to play more. Scoring three goals, getting a shutout, and creating a lot of opportunities was great. I thought Delaware’s goalkeeper came up with a lot of great saves and that is a very well coached team.”
Here are highlights of all three scores for the Scarlet Knights.
Great start for No. 24 @RUWSoccer as they open their season with a 3-0 shutout victory over the Blue Hens of Delaware.— Rutgers On BTN (@RutgersOnBTN) August 18, 2018
LaPlant, Whitley, & Ali all tally goals in this one for the Knights. pic.twitter.com/1SGeM1wcXB
In the game, Rutgers outshot Delaware by a tally of 16-4 and a 10-2 margin with shots on goal, while holding a 9-3 edge on corner kicks.
The Scarlet Knights have a quick turnaround with a game on Sunday at 5 p.m. at Yurcak Field against Drexel, who tied Rider 1-1 on Friday night in their season opener.
To read our season preview, which includes quotes from head coach Mike O’Neill, LaPlant, Aylmer, and Adora Moneme, click here.