The Rutgers women’s soccer team kicked off its 2018 season with two wins on the opening weekend. After defeating Delaware 3-0 on Friday night, the Scarlet Knights were back it less than 48 hours later, hosting Drexel for a 5 p.m. Sunday match at Yurcak Field. It was a tighter game than the season opener, but Rutgers persevered with a strong second half effort to win the game by the score of 2-1.
Sophomore midfielder Gabby Provenzano put Rutgers up front in the 17th minute with a great one timer off of a beautiful free kick on a set piece from captain Taylor Aylmer. It was her first career goal for the Scarlet Knights.
In the 37th minute near the end of the first half, Drexel even the scored when Kiera Hennessy knocked in a header off of a high ranging corner kick from Natalie Pantalone. Rutgers goalkeeper and true freshman Meagan McClelland, making just her second career start, came off her line but failed to get to the ball in time before Hennessy headed it into the back of the net. The score was tied at 1 at the break and each team took five shots in the opening frame.
Soon after the second half began, star forward Amirah Ali put Rutgers back in the lead for good. Captain Kenie Wright set up the play by taking a long shot that rebounded off the Drexel goalkeeper in the six yard box. Ali showed both poise and skill by gaining possession and finishing the play with her second goal of the young season. It was also Wright’s second assist in 2018 so far.
Rutgers has always been a tough team and grad transfer Madison Pogarch is fitting right in, as this play symbolizes perfectly the mantra of “No Retreat” that the program adopted for this season.
Rutgers ended up outshooting Drexel 11-8 on the day and held a 7-2 edge on corner kicks. McClelland registered 3 saves on the day and Rutgers is 2-0 on the season, both victories coming with the newcomer in the net. The offense has looked good through the first two games, with Amirah Ali leading the way and captains Taylor Aylmer and Kenie Wright setting up three of the team’s five goals so far.
Rutgers is back in action this Thursday to begin another weekend home stand. They first host St. Joseph’s at 7 p.m. on August 23rd and the Hawks will come in with confidence after also starting the season with a 2-0 record after beating Temple and Lehigh this past weekend. That match is followed by a 1 p.m. matinee on Sunday, August 26th against George Mason, who are 1-1 on the season, beating East Tennessee State 1-0 and losing to Tennessee 4-0.
To watch interviews with head coach Mike O’Neill and midfielder Gabby Provenzano, click on the video below.