The no. 21 Rutgers women’s soccer team closed out the regular season in dramatic fashion, coming from behind from a two goal deficit to defeat Michigan State (8-9-1; 1-8-1) by the score 3-2 on the road on Sunday afternoon. Nneka Moneme scored in her fourth consecutive game, delivering two goals, while Amirah Ali scored as well.
The Spartans scored two goals in the first 17 minutes of action, but Rutgers didn’t give up and battled its way back into the game.
Moneme got Rutgers on the board off an assist from Taylor Aylmer to cut the deficit to 2-1 in the 23rd minute.
Just three minutes later, Amirah Ali tied the score at 2-2, who beat four defenders after receiving a pass from Brittany LaPlant.
TIED GAME!— RutgersWomensSoccer (@RUWSoccer) October 27, 2019
Four defenders? No problem! Amirah adds the equalizer just three minutes later to make this a 2-2 game at Michigan State! pic.twitter.com/H5Kt9TUWHS
The Scarlet Knights continued to put pressure on MSU and completed the comeback off a corner kick in the 36th minute. Emily Harrigan sent a short pass to Aylmer, who delivered a long pass to Moneme, who delivered the game winning goal.
The second half was relatively even, but Rutgers was able to protect its lead for the 3-2 victory with neither team scoring. Goalkeeper Meagan McClelland made two of her three saves in the second half.
Michigan State held a 12-10 shot advantage and 6-2 edge in corner kicks, but RU gutted out the win on the last day of the regular season.
“We’ve said all year long that we bend, but we don’t break. This win today really showcased that mentality,” said senior forward Brittany LaPlant. “Going down two goals early on is never easy to come back from, but we never put our heads down. We worked our way back and scored three nice goals along the way. I’m so proud of how we’ve reacted not just today, but all season long as a team because we’ve shown time and time again our grit and resiliency to get the job done.”
The Scarlet Knights finished the regular season with a 14-2-2 record and equaled its most wins in Big Ten play since its first season in 2014, going 8-2-1. RU has won four games in a row and have gone 6-0-1 in its last seven contests.
While Wisconsin (13-2-2; 9-0-1) officially won the conference regular season title on Sunday, although it hasn’t been officially announced, Rutgers appears to have earned the second seed in the Big Ten Tournament due to its head to head victory against no. 16 Michigan last Thursday due to the league’s tiebreaker procedures.
The Big Ten Tournament begins Sunday, November 3rd and Rutgers is guaranteed to play at home the entire time. The top four seeds play at home in the quarterfinal round, followed by RU hosting the semifinal and championship rounds at Yurcak Field. I’ll have a breakdown of Rutgers path to its first ever Big Ten title once the bracket is officially announced.