No. 9 Rutgers women’s soccer defeated Illinois 3-0 on Saturday to complete a perfect 10-0 record in Big Ten play. Just two days removed from winning the program’s and school’s first ever Big Ten title, the Scarlet Knights made even more history with this victory.
They extended their program best winning streak to 11 straight games and finished the regular season with the most wins in program history with a 15-2-0 record. In addition, Rutgers accomplished the first undefeated conference season in program history and are the first Big Ten team to do that since 2005.
RU dominated play against the Illini (5-8-1; 1-8-1) from the start. They registered eight shots and five corners in the first 13 minutes of play but couldn’t break through. It was scoreless until the 36th minute when Allison Lowrey scored from the center box area from point blank range. Emily Mason and Sara Brocious were credited with assists. It was Lowery’s fifth goal of the season and she is tied for third most on the team.
Despite holding a 17-7 shot adnatge and a 7-3 edge in corners at the half, Rutgers only led 1-0.
In the second half, Amirah Ali scored twice within a five minute span to extend the lead to 3-0. Her first goal in the 56th minute was unassisted and her second score in the 61st minute was assisted by goalkeeper Meagan McClelland and Sam Kroeger. The only three-time All-American in program history has now scored five goals in her last six games. She is now second on the team in goals and points.
Rutgers held a 30-11 shot advantage overall and an 11-4 edge with corner kicks. Credit Illinois goalkeepers Julia Cili and Naomi Jackson for combining for 12 saves in the game.
“Going into the game, we knew we already won the conference, but we wanted to go undefeated. We did that, we got the job done. Anyone who comes on the field, they’re going to look to score. Everybody plays a huge role on this team. Playing for my home state it feels great to bring home the trophy to New Jersey, especially the first Big Ten win in Rutgers history. It feels really good. We hit one milestone and we’re looking for more. We’re going to keep going until the end,” said Lowrey.
McClelland made her lone save in the 67th minutes as Rutgers recorded its fifth shutout in Big Ten play.
“To get a defensive shutout, it’s a great feeling. Our team put so much work behind the ball and to be able get a shutout to prove that is awesome. The assisting was really excited, I didn’t even know about until after the game. A lot of what we focus on is just the depth on our team and being 28 strong. Every person on this team contributes and that’s on and off the field. It’s really important keeping that mentality that everyone here has a role and everyone plays that role great. Without all 28 people being able to put in the effort they put in, we wouldn’t be able to have as successful as the season we are having so far,” said McClelland.
Rutgers now returns home and will host a quarterfinal match in the Big Ten Tournament on Sunday, October 31. RU is the No. 1 seed will host No. 8 Seed Wisconsin. Saturday’s game against Illinois was moved up a day due to weather concerns and the rest of league finished on Sunday. The highest remaining seed in the semifinals will host the remaining rounds of the Big Ten Tournament on November 4 and 7.
“Being undefeated was that final step in conference play that we wanted. It proving to everyone that we are the best. Even when we had the trophy already, we didn’t stop the hustle. We kept the momentum going and front foot forward. We kept striving for it and I think that’s a good pace that we have to continue throughout the rest of the season,” said Mason.