PISCATAWAY, NJ—The Rutgers women’s soccer porgram is just two wins away from becoming the first sports team in school history to win a Big Ten championship.
The Scarlet Knights will play the Ohio State Buckeyes on Friday, November 6, with the winner moving on to play in the Big 10's conference championship game on Sunday, November 8.
On November 1, third-seeded Rutgers defeated the sixth-seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers by the score of 4-1 to advance to the semifinals.
It was the second time this season that Rutgers was victorious against Minnesota at Yurcak Field in Piscataway.
The semifinal matchup with Ohio State will take place at the home of the tournament’s top seed, Penn State.
The Buckeyes earned the seventh seed in the tournament by compiling a 5-4-2 record in conference play.
Despite being heavy underdogs, Ohio State stunned second-seeded Wisconsin 2-1 in Madison, Wisconsin, on Sunday, November 1. At the time, Wisconsin was the #25 team in the country.
This will be the second meeting between Rutgers and Ohio State this season. On October 15, Rutgers shut out the Buckeyes 2-0 at Yurcak Field.
Rutgers has enjoyed a tremendous season under second-year head coach Mike O’Neill, who guided the Knights to a 15-2-2 overall record, with an 8-2-2 record in Big Ten play.
During the regular season, Rutgers was 3-0 against ranked opponents, dispatching #20 UConn 2-0, #9 Penn State 1-0, and #19 Minnesota 3-1.
Despite finishing in third place in the conference’s regular season standings, at #7, Rutgers is the highest-ranked Big Ten team in the NSCAA Coaches Poll. Meanwhile, Big Ten foe Penn State is ranked #9.
Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Northwestern all received votes, but not enough to place in the poll’s top 25.
Rutgers’ strong season has yielded individual honors for a number of the its student athletes.
On October 30, the conference named sophomore goalkeeper Casey Murphy the "Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year."
The Big Ten Defender of the Year award went to Rutgers' senior center back Erica Skroski.
Murphy and Skroski, along with senior center back Brianne Reed, were each named to the All-Big Ten First Team.
The Scarlet Knights’ younger players also received some recognition, as midfielder Katelyn Walters and defender Kenie Wright made the Big Ten All-Freshman team.
The Scarlet Knights likely came into this year's Big Ten Tournament with a chip on their shoulders, after a shocking first round exit last year following a 1-0 loss to Iowa in the quarterfinals.
Rutgers rebounded in the NCAA Tournament, beating LaSalle 2-0 at Yurcak Field in the first round, before falling to the eventual national runner-up, Virginia, 3-0 in round two.
Those losses will be a distant memory, however, if Rutgers can defeat Ohio State, and then either Penn State or Michigan on Sunday, November 8.