Rutgers and Umass squared off at rainy Yurcak field Sunday evening. The game was initially scheduled for 1 p.m., but officials deemed the field unfit for play. Six hours later, the Knights and Minutewomen would take to the pitch as the skies opened up again.
Umass entered the match with consecutive shutouts over Syracuse and Bryant and owns a solid win versus Stony Brook and a draw against a very good Vanderbilt squad. Meanwhile, Rutgers looked to follow up their most impressive win of the season last time out - a 1-0 clean sheet versus previously undefeated Providence.
The Knights attacked in the opening minutes as backer Kassidy Banks drove the ball up the field and sent a crisp pass to Gia Vicari in stride. Vicari sent a shot on goal that Minutewoman keeper Bella Mendoza safely corralled.
In the eighth minute, Umass countered as Nia Hislop drove a well-hit ball toward the lower right post, but Knights keeper Olivia Bodmer made a sensational save. Bodmer would make another stellar save in the 38th minute, preserving the tie.
In the 43rd minute, Becci Fluccel sent a well placed ball toward goal off a corner kick that Naila Schoefberger rocketed off the crossbar, narrowly missing the match’s first goal. The teams would enter the half locked in a scoreless tie. Rutgers outshot Umass 6-3 and led on corner kicks 4-2 in the opening half.
Rutgers began to assert themselves early in the second half. Riley Tiernan’s shot in the 48th minute careened off the left post. In the 51st minute, Tiernan put another shot on goal that missed wide left. The barrage continued as Kylie Diagle sent a low shot toward the center of the goal that keeper Mendoza stopped.
The Knights continued to relentlessly attack the net. In the 66th minute, Becci Fluccel’s shot would hit the left post but Allison Lynch would follow with a shot that hit the hand of the Umass defender, setting up a penalty kick. Calm and collected, Allison Lowrey would take the kick. Umass goalie Mendoza dove to the right in anticipation, but Lowrey clinically drove the ball into the center of the goal for a 1-0 Rutgers advantage.
In the 69th minute, Tiernan would hit the post yet again, the fourth time in the match the woodwork foiled Rutgers. Minutes later, Gia Girman would race towards the goal and drive to the outside, sending a beautiful pass back to Sam Kroeger, who fired a shot to the bottom right post that Umass keeper Mendoza made a fabulous save on. Mendoza would make an easier save two minutes later on a drive by freshman Ashley Baran. In all, Mendoza had five saves and prevented the match from getting out of hand.
Baran would add one more shot and Tiernan two as Rutgers continued to attack the net. The Minutewoman couldn’t control possession and find any decent looks near the Rutgers goal down the stretch, as the Knights prevailed, 1-0. Rutgers improves to 4-2-2 on the season, while Umas drops to 3-2-2.
”(In) the second half we had a mentality to attack and go after them, where maybe in the first half, they kind of bossed the game a little bit. So, we talked about it at halftime, what we needed to do, and we needed to be aggressive. I think in the second half we did exactly that. So that’s a step forward, but we’ve had a lot of games in a short period of time, so now the biggest thing is to get some rest and get ready for our first Big Ten game on Sunday.”
Head Coach Mike O’Neill
- The energy by Rutgers, start to finish. Yes, they kept hitting the post, but for the first time since the FDU match, Rutgers overwhelmed an opponent. This time it was against a stout Umass squad.
- Riley Tiernan was the most explosive player on the pitch. The weather conditions did not slow her down as she controlled possession and put shot after quality shot on goal.
- Sophomore back Naila Schoefberger continues to impress defensively and with her ability to move the ball upfield and showed no fear on the penalty corner she narrowly missed putting in
- The stats don’t like. RU outshot Umass 18-5, including a dominant 13-2 in the second half. Only 6 of those shots on goal, but the majority of takes were quality ones, and on a night with such awful conditions, it’s hard to criticize the accuracy.
- Rutgers tallied their fifth clean sheet in the first eight games.
Hoos’ your daddy? Conference play begins as the Scarlet Knights travel to Bloomington to take on the undefeated Indiana Hoosiers Sun., Sept. 17 at 1 p.m., streaming live on B1G+.