On a soggy Thursday night at Yurcak field with frequent rain showers, Rutgers (12-1-2, 4-1-2) found themselves in a hard-fought match with Big Ten foe Minnesota (6-7-2, 2-4-1) . The Knights would take leads of 1-nil and 2-1 with Minnesota having an answer each time. The teams had to settle for a 2-2 draw, with each one being awarded a point earned in conference play.
As the regular season winds down, Minnesota is desperate for points, currently tied for the 8th and final Big Ten tourney slot with Illinois. Teams not in the top eight when the season concludes do not qualify for the conference postseason tourney.
Rutgers also finds themselves jockeying for position. The Knights currently sit at No. 4 in the conference, tied with Ohio State and Nebraska. When the regular season concludes a week from this Sunday, the top four teams earn the right to host a first-round game and Rutgers has yet to lose a game at Yurcak this season.
The Knights got off to a great start in the match with Riley Tiernan taking a Sam Kroeger pass in stride and neatly putting it past Gophers goalie Megan Paschko into the back post for a 1-0 lead.
In the 13th minute, Gophers attacker Sophie Bowman would rocket the ball past Knights keeper Meagan McClelland to knot up the score 1-1. Neither team would find the back of the net for the remainder of the half. The Gophers outshot the Knights 5-3 in the half.
Rutgers once again set the tone early in the half, with Allison Lynch beautifully heading in a set piece by Kylie Daigle to put the Knights up 2-1. Can’t do it much better than this.
Less than three minutes later, Rutgers had a golden opportunity to salt the game away on a beautiful strike by Daigle that Gophers’s keeper Plaschko was able to deflect enough so that it hit the crossbar and bounced in front of a wide open net. However, the Rutgers attacker, whom I believe was Sara Brocious, rushed the shot and misconnected. Had she taken a moment to gather the ball, she most likely has a wide open net and an easy goal.
Minnesota would take advantage of the Knights’s missed opportunity a short time thereafter, sending a high, soft ball that Meagan McClelland went to snatch out of the air, but collided with one of her defenders, dislodging the ball in mid-air. Gophers attacker Gabbie Cesarone was able to head the loose ball in and knot the score back up at 2-2. It’s rare to see sure-handed McClelland lose one, even with the contact from her defender.
The Knights would have ample chances in the final 30 minutes, but were unable to find the net and the game would end in a 2-2 draw. You could see the elation from the Minnesota players, earning a hard-fought tie on the road vs. a top-10 squad while on the other side, Knights players left the field dejected, knowing full well this game was theirs with a little better execution. Rutgers outshot Minnesota 9-5 in the 2nd half.
McCelland set a new NCAA all-time record for minutes played in the sport, finishing the game with 9,032:27 minutes played and passing the 8,998:07 mark set by Virginia’s Laurel Ivory in 2021. While she wasn’t celebrating on this rainy night, Meagan will be recognized on Senior Day this Sunday at home vs. Wisconsin.
Senior Day at Yurcak, this Sunday, Oct. 16 at 1 p.m. against Wisconsin. Streaming live on B1G+. A win against the Badgers moves the Knights into 3rd place with two games remaining on the road against Michigan and Michigan State (current Big Ten co-leader with Northwestern).