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Women’s Soccer Shuts Out Holy Cross, 2-0 in Home Opener

Fall athletics are officially back

Rutgers Athletics

Following a disappointing finish during the 2022-23 campaign, the Rutgers women’s soccer squad looked to get off to a strong start this fall. Eighteen players return from last season’s NCAA tournament squad, including All-American defender Emily Mason and All-Region selections Riley Tiernan, Sara Brocious and Sam Kroeger. They join Allison Lowrey and Emma Misal, all garnering Big Ten awards last fall. Impact graduate transfer, forward Gia Vicari, earned All Big East First Team awards the last three seasons and was named an All Region player last fall with the Georgetown Hoyas.

We came in for captain’s preseason on July 10th and everyone was already fit. So we already felt a little bit ahead of everything. Then we started to play together and got this rhythm and some chemistry before preseason even started. We have a lot of new faces that are fitting in really well. It seems the freshman class came in and gave a push to all the returners, which is I think exactly what we needed.

Graduate Back and Captain Allison Lynch

Among the many new faces is a New Jersey Player of the Year, a group of High School All-Americans, and multiple national and state champions from the club and high school ranks. The 11 freshmen, including nine from New Jersey, are Brianna Azevedo, Ashley Baran, Ava Brass, Audrey Cain, Elliot Forney, Gabriela Gil, Alyssa Martinez, Reilly McGlinn, Shannon Reiser, Olivia Russomanno, and Tehya Scheuten (courtesy Rutgers Athletics).

With over 900 fans attending Yurcak Field on a warm, muggy evening, Rutgers started strong. Sophomore middie Allie Post, making her first career start, sent an opportunistic ball toward the box. Crusaders keeper Julia Walsh raced out to snag the ball but appeared to lose it in the sun and mistime her jump. She also received contact from a Rutgers player that was not called. Rutgers junior Riley Tiernan pounced on the muffed ball, sending it into the empty net for a 1-0 lead in the 6th minute. You can watch the play below if you like.

Allison Lowrey would add a penalty kick in the 14th minute after being pulled down from behind in the box following a crisp pass from senior midfielder Becci Fluchel, pushing the Knights’s lead out to 2-0.

Rutgers would not score another goal as nineteen players saw playing time, with Sophomore Olivia Bodmer making her first start in net. Bodmer has big shoes to fill - following in the footsteps of USWNT’s Casey Murphy and program stalwart Meghan McClelland, who graduated last season and signed with the Chicago Red Stars.

The Knights would outshoot the Crusaders, 22-2, and had ample opportunities to add to their lead, but one could see the timing was slightly off in the first game of the season. Freshman Ashley Baran, a prolific scorer at Holy Cross Prep in Burlington County, had a golden opportunity for her first college goal.

Despite the missed opportunities on offense, the defense was stout, as has come to be expected under head coach Mike O’Neill, now in his 10th season at the helm and 24th overall with the program. Backers Allison Lynch, Emily Mason (just named to the Mac Herman Watch List for the nation’s top player), Kassidy Banks, and Naila Schoefberger held down the fort, only allowing two easily contested shots on goal.

Joining Bodmer and Post in their first collegiate starts was sophomore back Schoefberger, who played 60 minutes in the shutout. Last season’s points leader, forward Sam Kroeger, sat out the match as she nurses an ankle injury but hopes to be in action soon.

The Scarlet Knights continue the two-match homestand to open the season on Sun., Aug. 20, against the Hofstra Pride at 7 p.m. at Yurcak Field. Hofstra won the Colonial Athletic Association championship last season, losing to Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.