The Rutgers women’s soccer team played their first road match of the young season, squaring off against the North Carolina State Wolfpack on a balmy summer evening in front of nearly 1,500 boisterous fans at Dail Soccer Field in Raleigh. The Knights looked to get back into the win column after being blanked by the Hofstra Pride last time out.
Rutgers would kick off the scoring early in the 6th minute. Allison Lynch sent a beautiful ball down the right sideline that Sara Brocious collected in stride and then sent a crisp crossing pass to Allison Lowrey, who would find the upper right back of the net for the 1-0 lead. The Knights would have other opportunities with Brocious missing over the crossbar in the 13th minute, Riley Tiernan missing high and left in the 18th minute, and Gia Vicari’s shot on goal being safely collected by Wolfpack keeper Maria Echezarreta in the 20th minute.
The Wolfpack would begin to settle in later in the first half, with explosive attacker Jameese Joseph looking like the quickest and most athletic player on the pitch and giving Rutgers defenders all kinds of fits with her elusive moves. Rutgers would do just enough to contain her, heading to the half with a 1-0 advantage. Rutgers outshot NC State, 7-4, in the first half, with 3 on goal.
The second half saw NC State control offensive play for longer stretches, but Rutgers’ defense was able to stave off each attack. In the 66th minute, Olivia Bodmer made a beautiful save off a Wolfpack header from a set piece, preserving the Knights’ lead. It looked as if Rutgers was on their way to a clean sheet and hard-fought road-win, but in the 88th minute, the Wolfpack pulled even when their set piece was played straight into the six-yard box, took a deflection, and rolled into goal. Similar to the prior game against Hofstra, Rutgers let up a key goal with less than four minutes remaining in the match.
- The Knights, though, would not go quietly. 45 seconds later, in the 89th minute, All-American backer Emily Mason missed a late game-winner by a foot after sending a header off a set piece just wide of the net. The match would ultimately end in a draw, with Rutgers moving to 1-1-1 and NC State 1-0-2. Rutgers moves to 2-4 all-time vs. NC State and 0-2 in Raleigh. This was their first head-to-head matchup since 2001.
This early-season match had the atmosphere of a tournament game with two very athletic squads going at it. While it’s disappointing that Rutgers couldn’t pull off a strong road win, it’s encouraging that they played at a high level on the road in front of a boisterous Wolfpack crowd.
Rutgers will need to clean things up on the defensive end late in matches. This is the second consecutive match where Head Coach Mike O’Neill’s squad has allowed a goal with less than four minutes remaining. Against Hofstra, pressing the backers late in the match gave the Pride a wide-open field to score in transition. Last night against the Wolfpack’s elite set piece execution, Bodmer was able to make the save in the 66th minute but wasn’t as fortunate in the 88th. It’s something the coaching staff will need to clean up moving forward as subsequent opponents try to exploit it.
Olivia Bodmer, the redshirt freshman, looks like she’s settling into the starting keeper role just fine and has shown early flashes of stardom, following in the super-sized footsteps of Casey Murphy and Meagan McClelland.
- Rutgers led in shot attempts, 13-11, and in shots on goal, 4-3, but the Scarlet Knights did not send a shot on target in the second half.
- RU had only four shots on net - 2 by Lowrey, 1 by Tiernan, and 1 by Vicari.
- Help could be on the way. I chatted briefly yesterday with last year’s leading scorer, attacker Sam Kroeger, and she is hopeful of playing in Monday’s match.
Another 2022 NCAA Tournament squad. The Scarlet Knights host 2022 NEC Tournament champions FDU on Mon., Aug. 28 at 5 p.m. in a Yurcak Field doubleheader. A men’s game follows against St. John’s at 7:30 p.m.