After opening the 2018 season by playing five games in thirteen days, going 4-0-1, the Rutgers women’s soccer team had eight days off until their next contest against Monmouth at home on Friday night. Perhaps the long break between game action threw the Scarlet Knights out of rhythm, as they struggled to finish offensively and gave up multiple goals for the first time since losing to Minnesota sixteen games ago. That was also the last time Rutgers lost at Yurcak Field. Despite scoring in just the seventh minute of the game, Rutgers trailed at the half and failed to score the rest of the way, dropping to in-state foe Monmouth 2-1.
Amirah Ali scored her team best 5th goal of the season on this powerful shot just outside the 18 yard box, putting Rutgers in the lead less than ten minutes into the action. Monmouth goalkeeper Amanda Knaub got a hand on the shot, but couldn’t make the save.
Unfortunately, Monmouth answered with a goal of their own in the 23rd minute, as Alli DeLuca produced her third score of the season off of a rebound 8 yards out from the net. Then in the 30th minute, the Hawks took the lead for good off of a shot from Lexie Palladino. She made it from the top of the 18 yard box, netting her second goal of the season. Both teams had 3 shots total in the first half, as Monmouth led 2-1.
Rutgers was aggressive in the second half, outshooting Monmouth 10-1 the rest of the way, but they failed to get the ball in the back of the net. Credit Hawks goalkeeper Amanda Knaub, who registered six saves on the night.
From the Rutgers press release:
”Monmouth was up for the match. They are always going to be well coached,” said head coach Mike O’Neill. ”I give them a lot of credit. There was a 10-minute period where they capitalized on mistakes by us and that is what good teams do.”
“We came out [of halftime] with an idea of wanted to do. We knew we were down by a goal and it was just about trying to execute. Opportunities we had, their keeper made some really good saves. We had seven corner kicks in the second half and we weren’t efficient on them. Until the very end we fought, so I am proud of my team. I am proud that they fought until the very end, but I think Monmouth capitalized on a couple of mistakes we made and we didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that we had.
In addition to holding a 13-4 advantage with shots in the contest, Rutgers owned a 9-0 edge in corner kicks as well. It’s a hard defeat to swallow for a young team. However, don’t discount Monmouth, who have proven to be a solid soccer program in recent seasons. Last year, they went 15-4-2, winning the MAAC Tournament and advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season. They are now 5-2 in 2018 which includes a double overtime loss at #13 N.C. State and win over the Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers returns to action on Sunday in their last non-conference match of the season against LaSalle. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET at Yurcak Field and is a rematch of last year’s NCAA Tournament First Round game in which Rutgers won 3-1. LaSalle comes in with a 4-1 record, so the Scarlet Knights need to recover quickly and move past Friday night’s disappointing defeat. Hopefully, they can use Friday’s loss as a learning experience and for motivation for this team to continue to get better as the season progresses.