It was a busy Friday for Rutgers Athletics and while I prefer game recaps for each team, I wanted to deliver timely updates on them all. Here are mini-recaps and some other updates for five Rutgers programs that played and or had significant news on Friday.
Women’s soccer eliminated from NCAA’s in penalty shootout
Playing in the second round on Friday night in Buies Creek, North Carolina, No. 22 Rutgers saw its season end in heartbreaking fashion. No. 6 Clemson took an early lead with a goal in the 27th minute maintained control until the final stretch of regulation. However, in the 85th minute, a pair of freshmen came through for RU. Emma Misal delivered her first career assist on a pass that was headed into the back of the net inside the far post by Allison Lowrey. It was her second goal of the season and sent the game into overtime.
Another freshman, Julianne Leskaukas, almost won the game in the 95th minute on a shot that hit the cross bar. The Rutgers defense held tight and only allowed four shots by Clemson in the entire game. After the score remained tied at 1-1 at the end of double overtime, the game would be decided by a penalty shootout. Clemson advanced to the Sweet 16 by winning the shootout 5-3.
It was a devastating way to end the season, but the program continued to set a high standard across Rutgers Athletics with a third straight top 3 finish in Big Ten play, a second consecutive appearance in the Big Ten semifinals, a ninth straight NCAA Tournament bid and fifth first round win in the past seven years. I’ll have a season recap and thoughts on the future of the program next week.
Women’s lacrosse falls to undefeated Northwestern in Big Ten semifinals
One day after beating Ohio State for a third time to advance to the Big Ten semifinals, the Scarlet Knights fell to top seed and undefeated Northwestern 24-14. No. 16 Rutgers played the No. 2 Wildcats tough for a good portion of the game, jumping out to an early 5-3 lead and came back to tie the score 11-11 in the second half, before NU finished on a 13-3 scoring run.
Sophomore Cassidy Spilis produced a career high nine goals and a season high nine draw controls, as the Scarlet Knights held a 24-16 edge in 50/50 balls. Meghan Ball had seven draw controls and forced a career high five turnovers. Both players were named First Team All-Big Ten selections on Thursday.
Rutgers now waits until Sunday, May 9th’s NCAA Tournament selection show to find out if the program will earn its second ever bid and first since 1999. It will air at 9 p.m. ET on ESPNU. With a program best six Big Ten wins, US Lacrosse Magazine currently projects Rutgers in the NCAA field.
Baseball defeats first place Nebraska for third consecutive road win over a ranked foe
Steve Owens’ club continues to impress in his first Big Ten season as Rutgers won its third consecutive road win over a ranked foe in league play. The Scarlet Knights trailed 3-2 entering the 8th inning, but exploded for sevens runs over the final two frames to beat No. 19 Nebraska for the first time ever by the final score of 9-4.
Ace Harry Rutkowski delivered another quality start in allowing two runs and four hits over six innings while earning the 200th strikeout of his career. Evan Sleight’s sacrifice fly gave RU a 4-3 lead and finished 2 of 4 with 2 RBI’s. Kevin Welsh hit a double in the next at bat to bring home another run and he finished with 2 RBI’s as well. Kyle Muller earned the win in allowing one walk and no hits in the seventh, while Dale Stanovich got the save in 1 1⁄3 innings of relief to close out the game. The bullpen didn’t allow a hit in three innings of work.
Rutgers is now 15-13 and made a big statement in opening the series with a win over first place Nebraska. They’ll play game 2 of the series on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET as Ben Wereski (5-2, 2.79 ERA) takes the mound coming off an impressive outing against Michigan last weekend.
Update: Rutgers came back from a 5-0 deficit to win the series on Saturday.
Men’s Golf solid start to Big Ten Tournament
The Scarlet Knights sit in fourth place out of fourteen teams after Friday’s first round at the Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana. They are seven strokes behind team leaders Illinois and Iowa after recording a field high of 57 pars in the opening round. Rhett Sellers is in 10th place with a three-over-par 75, while Chris Gotterup and Oliver Wheatley are tied for 21st place with a five-over-par 77.
Men’s lacrosse All-Big Ten honors
Rutgers had a big day despite not beginning play in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals until next week. The Big Ten announced all-conference awards on Friday and RU cleaned up. Colin Kirst was named Specialist of the Year, Shane Knobloch was named Freshman of the Year and Brian Brecht won Coach of the Year. Well deserved accomplishments for all three of them.
In addition, there were six All-Big Ten Selections overall, a program best, after a second place finish with an 8-2 record in conference play. Connor Kirst joined his brother Colin and Adam Charalambides on the First Team, while Jaryd Jean-Felix, Kieran Mullins and Ethan Rall were named to the Second Team.
The Scarlet Knights will play the winner of Penn State and Johns Hopkins on Thursday, May 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the Big Ten semifinals. It will air live on the Big Ten Network.