The Rutgers women’s soccer team kicked off its season in dramatic fashion on Thursday night, coming from behind to defeat Central Connecticut State 2-1 in overtime. They fought through rain and wind late in the game as well.
After CCSU scored on its only shot of the first half just 11 minutes into the game, Rutgers dominated the action but trailed late until junior captain Amirah Ali took over. After the Scarlet Knights drew a foul in the penalty box in the 70th minute of the game, Ali calmly stepped up and tied the game with a rocket to the right side and into the back of the net.
The game was tied 1-1 at the end of regulation and it went into overtime. Rutgers didn’t lose once last season in playing an NCAA tying 11 OT contests, going 6-0-5 in extra session games. They picked up right where they left off, as Ali delivered her seventh game winning goal of her Rutgers career six minutes into overtime.
It was a thrilling way to begin a promising campaign, one in which the Scarlet Knights were picked to finish in second place in the Big Ten preseason coaches poll.
“We knew that we had to just push through,” Ali said. “This is what all of our preseason has been about, we work to get our fitness in to be able to play in these types of games for ninety minutes and even more. That’s what we did here, we stuck together and got it done.”
They dominated all major statistics, including an 18-6 edge in shots and 11-2 advantage with shots on goal. Rutgers held possession for 60% of the game and a 7-0 advantage in corner kicks.
CCSU is a tough opponent though, as they went 16-2-2 last season, winning both the NEC regular season and tournament titles. They only lost once in the regular season a year ago but lost to Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA’s. They gave Rutgers a battle to open the season at Yurcak Field.
Although the Scarlet Knights did allow one score, the defense allowed just one other shot on goal in the final 85 minutes of the game. The senior trio on the back line comprised of Chantelle Swaby, Amanda Visco, and Tiernny Wiltshire all played 96 minutes of the game.
This is a veteran squad with players that know how to win and it was a great victory to start the 2019 campaign. In our season preview Ali said, “I want to try and produce more goals. I know 10 last season was a lot, but I can definitely score more.” Well after one game, she is off to a very good start in her mission to achieve her goal.
Rutgers is back on the pitch this Sunday at 2 p.m. at Yurcak Field against Fordham, who are losing 3-0 on the road against no. 10 Tennessee tonight. Next Thursday, the Scarlet Knights will then host the Volunteers in what is shaping up to be a great matchup. The 2019 season has begun and is off to a good start for Rutgers Women's Soccer.