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No. 9 Rutgers women’s soccer wins outright Big Ten Championship

The Scarlet Knights set a program record with ten straight victories in a 2-0 defeat of Indiana.

AJ Mast/Rutgers Athletics

No. 9 Rutgers women’s soccer won the Big Ten regular season title outright for the first time ever on Thursday night with a 2-0 victory at Indiana (9-4-3; 3-3-3). It was also the first ever Big Ten team title in Rutgers athletics history. The Scarlet Knights improved to 14-2-0 overall this season and 9-0-0 in Big Ten play. They’ll take a program record 10 game winning streak into the regular season finale at Illinois (5-10-1; 1-7-1) on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET.

“Great day for the players, staff, our families and Rutgers University. To be part of history is very special and this team will forever be remembered. It’s a credit to the players and staff for all their hard work,” said Head Coach Mike O’Neill. “So we will enjoy the victory tonight and get back to work tomorrow as there is still so much to play for. I am so happy and proud of the players and staff. Forever Rutgers, Forever Family.”

“Congratulations to our women’s soccer program on tonight’s historic achievement,” said Athletic Director Pat Hobbs. “They stand alone as the 2021 Big Ten Champions and it’s a testament to the hard work put in by Coach O’Neill, his staff and this amazing group of young women. It is the first of many Big Ten Conference titles for Rutgers and I couldn’t be more proud.”

The Scarlet Knights took the lead when three-time All-American Amirah Ali won the ball from a defender after Sam Kroeger had delivered it into the box. Ali made a tremendous individual play to score her sixth goal of the season to give RU a 1-0 advantage in the 22nd minute.

In the second half, Allison Lynch had a great cross into the box that All-American Frankie Tagliaferri won and quickly finished in the 51st minute for her team leading 12th goal of the season.

The 2-0 score held as Rutgers outshot Indiana 14-6 on the night. Goalkeeper Meagan McClelland made four saves as the Scarlet Knights delivered their 8th shutout of the season.

This title was a longtime coming for this program after three consecutive top 3 finishes in league play. The senior class was able to produce the program and school’s first ever Big Ten title in dominant fashion. After beating Michigan State to claim at least a share of the title last weekend, they were able to take care of business on the road against the Hoosiers.

“Winning this title in my eyes had so much more meaning than just a championship. Being able to lift up that trophy with this team only made my final collegiate season that much more special! All of the hard work we put in since July prepared us for moments like this. But we know we have more goals as a team and are very excited for the next game and postseason!,” said captain Amirah Ali.

“Nothing beats the feeling of being a champion with your best friends. We’re so proud of all the work we’ve put it and what we’ve achieved so far, but are also excited for what’s to come. Bringing home the school’s first Big Ten Championship is a feeling like no other, and we can’t wait to see the bright future for all of RU Athletics!,” said captain Meagan McClelland.

“I’m completely speechless after today. I’m so incredibly proud of this team and all the hard work that everyone has put in. There’s no better feeling then making history with your best friends. The trophy is coming back to Jersey where it belongs,” said captain Gabby Provenzano.

“Year after year we have worked so hard to make a statement about what Rutgers is all about. This moment has shown everyone how much heart this team has, we are truly a family. To come home with Rutgers first championship means everything to us,” said captain Shea Holland.

“There’s not many words that can describe this feeling of succeeding with the people you love. I’m so inspired by this team for grinding as hard as we have since day one, and it feels absolutely surreal to finally lift a Big ten Trophy and make history for Rutgers. This success has been a long time coming and we couldn’t have done it without the support from Rutgers, but it is only the start for this team. We’re not done yet!,” said captain Nicole Binkley.

“Our goal from day one was to be champions. We said before every practice and every game keeping it in mind. This team is something special with the winning mentality and desire to be better every day. The coaches push us to improve and up our game each time we put on our cleats, and they always expect the best we have as we do of each other and ourselves. I am so proud to be a part of something so special with so many amazing people,” said Sara Brocious.

“Being Big Ten Champions is like no other feeling. The amount of work this team and coaching staff has put into where we are today is unbelievable! Our goal from day one has always been to be at the top of the table and win the conference. We stuck to our plan and took each game one at a time. I am so proud of this entire team and the dedication, focus and resilience we had from the beginning. It wasn’t easy but we stuck together in the tough moments. We continued to carry the saying “We bend, but we don’t break” and that is what we stuck with for all of our games. We aren’t finished yet and our next focus is Sunday’s match but being a part of history with the team tonight is a moment I will forever cherish,” said Sam Kroeger.

Rutgers has earned the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will host a quarterfinals match on Sunday, October 31. The semifinals will be played on November 4 and the championship game is on November 7 on the campus of the highest remaining seed following quarterfinal play. The Scarlet Knights have a tremendous opportunity to play for a Big Ten Tournament title the entire way at Yurcak Field.

Before that RU will look to finish out a perfect regular season against the Illini on Sunday, October 24 at 2 p.m. ET airing live on BTN+.