PISCATAWAY, NJ—Rutgers women’s soccer team is ranked 24th in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s preseason poll.

The ranking is a small step up for the Scarlet Knights, as they ended last season ranked 25th in the poll.

The accolade comes after Rutgers enjoyed a successful first season in the Big Ten athletic conference.

The team went 13-6-1 overall, and 8-4-1 in conference play. They qualified for the NCAA Tournament, defeating LaSalle in the first round before falling to eventual national runner-up Virginia in Round Two.

The high ranking is thanks in large part to the core of the team remaining intact, despite losing three of its top four scorers from last season.

The Scarlet Knights will be looking to replace 2014 leading scorer, forward Stefanie Scholz, as well as last year’s third-leading scorer, forward/midfielder Amy Pietrangelo, who both graduated after the 2014 season.

Last season’s fourth-leading scorer, forward/midfielder Amanda DeVolk, forfeited her final season of eligibility to further her education.

Despite these departures, the Scarlet Knights will still return nine players that started in 18 or more of Rutgers’ 20 games last season.

Rutgers is one of three Big Ten teams to be ranked in the preseason poll.  Penn State is ranked sixth, and Wisconsin is ranked 14th.

Michigan, Minnesota and Maryland all received votes in the poll, but not enough to receive a ranking.

Rutgers was the only Big Ten team to rise in the rankings since the end of last season.

While the Scarlet Knights moved up one spot, Penn State stayed at No. 6, and Wisconsin went down one spot after ending last season at No. 13.

With the Badgers absent from Rutgers’ schedule, Penn State is currently the only ranked team Rutgers is slated to face this year.

The Scarlet Knights head back to Yurcak Field for the first time since their NCAA Tournament win over LaSalle on Saturday, August 15 when they take on Syracuse in preseason action.

Reporter at New Brunswick Today