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No. 5 Rutgers vs. No. 7 Arkansas: Women’s Soccer Elite Eight Preview & Game Thread

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The Scarlet Knights have a chance to make it back to the Final Four for the second time in program history.

Rutgers Athletics

How To Watch, Stream & Listen

NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals

No. 7 Arkansas (19-4-0) at No. 5 Rutgers (19-3-1)

Where: Yurcak Field (Fans encouraged to wear black for a blackout)

Kick-off: Friday, November 26 at 7:00 PM ET

Weather: 36 degrees, partly cloudy with a 0% chance of rain, 11 mph winds

Tickets: Purchase by clicking here or at the entrance gate (Cash Only)

TV: None

Stream: BTN+ (Free with no subscription needed) - Dom Savino and Glenn Crooks

Radio: WRSU 88.7 FM

Stats: Live stats available at NCAA.com

Last time out: No. 1 seed Rutgers outlasted Big XII champion No. 4 seed TCU in a double overtime draw by advancing in a penalty kick shootout 5-4 in seven frames. No. 2 seed Arkansas beat No. 3 seed Notre Dame 3-2 in the Sweet Sixteen.

Players to Watch for Rutgers: Frankie Tagliaferri - 13 goals, 8 assists, 34 points; Amirah Ali - 11 goals, 6 assists, 28 points; Riley Tiernan - 7 goals, 12 assists, 26 points; Gabby Provenzano - Big Ten Defender of the Year; Meagan McClelland - 0.62 goals against average, 0.839 save percentage

Players to Watch for Arkansas: Anna Podojil - 15 goals, 6 assists, 36 points; Parker Goins - 11 goals, 13 assists, 35 points; Taylor Malham - 11 goals, 5 assists, 27 points; Kayla McKeon - 7 goals, 7 assists, 21 points; Bryana Hunter - lead defender with most minutes played; Hannah Warner - 0.98 goals against average, 0.744 save percentage

Quotes

Frankie Tagliaferri

“We’re taking in that moment of advancing on PKs and seeing all the faith and belief we had in each other. A lot of girls have said that during the game, there were moments that it wasn’t going our way. But for some reason, we just knew it wasn’t our last game. We knew we were going to win that game. Taking that attitude and that belief and bringing it into the day. To know even if we go down a goal or it’s not going our way that we can do it if we just keep believing in each other and keep on believing the process throughout the game.”

Kylie Daigle

“Today, I can say at practice we were just focusing on having fun. We did some soccer tennis and 5v5. The energy was high, we had some music on. We’re just really excited because we know we haven’t been to the Elite Eight in a long time. Now that we’re here, all we can do is focus on the controllables, and that’s our energy and our motivation to keep going forward.”

The Matchup

This is the type of powerhouse showdown you would expect with a trip to the Final Four on the line. It’s battle between regular season champions from the Big Ten and SEC. Although the Razorbacks have won their conference title three years in a row, this is the program’s first ever Elite Eight appearance. RU last advanced this far in 2015 when they defeated Virginia to go the Final Four.

Arkansas is tied for second in the country in averaging 3.00 goals per game. They outshot Notre Dame, a top ten team, 23-9 so their offensive attack is relentless. Rutgers is 10th nationally at 2.70 goals per game. The difference is defensively, as RU is 16th nationally with a .603 goals against average. The Razorbacks are 78th nationally with a 0.950 goals against average.

A key matchup will be with Parker Goins, the SEC Midfielder of the Year, and Frankie Tagliaferri, the Big Ten Midfielder of the Year. Controlling pace and possession will be key in this game and these two players will be heavily involved in that outcome.

Both rosters are littered with all-conference players. Arkansas had four players make the All-SEC First Team in Bryana Hunter, Anna Podojil, Taylor Malham and Goins while Kayla McKeon made the All-SEC second team. Rutgers had nine players earn All-Big Ten honors led by Tagliaferri and Gabby Provenzano (Defender of the Year), who also earned First Team along with Amirah Ali and Riley Tiernan, who was named Freshman of the Year. Becci Fluchel and Meagan McClelland earned Second Team honors.

While Arkansas brings the more high powered offense into this matchup, Rutgers has the better defense. The key for the Scarlet Knights is to still look to be aggressive and counterattack in transition. Getting Tiernan and Ali in the open field will pose problems for the Razorbacks and the key for RU.

Arkansas is dangerous in set pieces and also on throw-ins near the box due to their height and skill. How Rutgers defends them in these situations is vital to success. Of course, Meagan McClelland is in goal and saved the day for the Scarlet Knights to be in this position.

Seizing the moment and playing within their emotions will be paramount. This team has a tremendous opportunity in front of what should be a large crowd. Coming out too amped up can lead to mistakes. Rutgers is battle tested as they beat the other three Big Ten teams that made the Sweet Sixteen. Whichever team that can take a punch and respond will likely be the winner headed to the Final Four.

UPDATE: RUTGERS ADVANCES TO THE FINAL FOUR!