No. 4 Rutgers women’s soccer lost for the first time since September 12 on Sunday, falling to No. 13 Michigan 1-0 in the Big Ten Championship game. In front of a record home crowd at Yurcak Field of 5,103 fans, the Scarlet Knights were unable to capture the conference’s tournament title in its third appearance all-time. The loss ended a program record 13 game winning streak that included an undefeated run as Big Ten regular season champions.
Michigan was the aggressor early on and pressed Rutgers the entire first half. The Scarlet Knights were slow to adjust and unable to control possession. The only goal of the game came in the 27th minute as Raleigh Loughman scored her ninth goal of the season off an assist from Sammi Woods.
Rutgers was finally able to exert some pressure on the Wolverines in the second half but they were unable to deliver the equalizer. Eight of their nine shots in the game came after halftime but Michigan held a 14-9 advantage overall and a 5-3 edge in shots on goal. Goalkeeper Meagan McClelland made four saves in the loss.
Senior captains Amirah Ali and Gabby Provenzano were named to the Big Ten All-Tournament team.
“We had an unfortunate loss just now, but I’m completely proud of this team. Going undefeated [in the regular season] is something that doesn’t happen usually. We got the conference win, we got our ring, and we did what we had to do. Now it’s just going on to the NCAAs. We’ll focus on the next thing and we’re going to keep pushing. No matter what the outcome was today, we are still going to push in the NCAAs,” said senior Amirah Ali, a four time First Team-All Big Ten honoree.
“We all worked super hard together,” said Big Ten Midfielder of the Year, Frankie Tagliaferri. “One thing that Becci [Fluchel] said is that we lost two games before going into Big Ten’s and then [we went undefeated]. Every team needs to learn, every team needs to grow, every team needs to be reminded to take it one day at a time.”
One major concern following this match is that Provenzano had to be helped off the field with an apparent knee injury and she did not return. The First Team All-Big Ten selection is the leader of the defense and if she is unable to play in the NCAA Tournament, it would be a significant loss.
“We play for something bigger than ourselves,” explained Ali. “We put it on the line for our sisters, for every single person on the field and on the bench. All 28 of us are working for each other and that is what we have in the back of our mind. We are doing it for each other, our team, our school, and Rutgers Nation.”
“We have to just keep our heads up. And if you look at us that is exactly what we did,” Tagliaferri stated. “We got into a huddle really quickly and we said ‘hey, we gave everything and we did it together’. Yea, it’s not the result we want, but we have another goal to go after. The season is not over so we have to move on from this. Going after a National Championship, we have to just keep doing what we are doing. I haven’t really heard of a team going 10-0 in the Big Ten for conference and then also making it to the tournament Championship. It is not an easy thing to do.”
Rutgers was the first Big Ten team to accomplish an undefeated regular season since 2005 and earned the school’s first ever conference title since joining the league in 2014. Despite the loss on Sunday, the Scarlet Knights now turn to the biggest stage of all and even more to accomplish.
“We have another goal to get after and that’s a National Championship,” said Tagliaferri.
The Division I NCAA women’s soccer selection show will take place on Monday at 4:30 p.m. ET and will stream live on NCAA.com. Rutgers is ranked No. 3 in the RPI following Sunday’s loss and is expected to earn a top 16 seed in the 64 team field. The first round takes place from November 12 -14 and the Scarlet Knights should open up at home. We will have a full bracket breakdown this evening.
Thank you to #RFamily, friends, and Rutgers Nation for your support all season and through the B1G Tournament. It was a record crowd at Yurcak Field today. We now look forward to the NCAA Tournament.— RUWS | BIG TEN CHAMPIONS (@RUWSoccer) November 8, 2021
The NCAA Selection Show is set for Monday, 11/8 at 4:30 PM. pic.twitter.com/bkJEhunvEA