Well, well, well.
Here we are—not dry anymore. The Rutgers Scarlet Knights WSOC program has captured the University’s first team B1G Season Championship, by going 10-0 in conference and outscoring opponents 18-6. The University has experienced individual National Champions before (Nick Suriano and Anthony Ashnault in Wrestling), but has been completely shut out in team sports of both regular season and end of season playoff B1G wins since joining the league.
Why is this team here? The players deserve the credit, but coach Mike O’Neill is the mastermind running the machine. He has a unique role as the local college HC, but also the technical director for Players Development Academy (PDA) in New Jersey. PDA is frequently in the finals of Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) competitions and produces most of the best talent on the East Coast. Straddling both jobs lets the program recruit the best players in the country almost seamlessly with the girls having extensive experience playing together.
The B1G Women’s Soccer tournament is an 8-team, two weekend run which will precede the NCAA tournament.
Rounding out the next 7 teams that will will follow #1 Rutgers’ seed into the playoff are:
Wisconsin (8); Iowa (5) v. MSU (4); PSU (6) v. Michigan (3); OHST (7) v. Purdue (2)
That first round matchup of Rutgers and Wisconsin is a real doozy. They didn’t play this year, but Wisconsin has two recent wins against the Scarlet Knights. They have a unique chance to give Rutgers an early first round exit.
Iowa has already played MSU this year and owns the home loss, falling 2-1. MSU owned most of the game after falling down to a quick 1-0. I don’t see MSU losing this one at home.
Perennial power Penn State has the toughest match of the first round. Coming off a recent 2-0 loss to Michigan last week in Ann Arbor, they’ll travel there again for the Quarterfinals tournament start. PSU did switch formations a few times in the game last week - maybe they’ve figured out how to exploit Michigan’s quick offense for a counter-attack. Also, maybe not. Michigan should take this.
Your traditional B1G rock fight is Purdue against OSU. Purdue took the game at Ohio State 1-0 about two weeks ago. Ohio State did lead in shots, but just couldn’t find an empty net. This should be an excellent repeat of that game. I don’t have a good handle on who could take this - I assume a 1-0 game either way depending on who can get a good counter.
I’m a bit biased - but I don’t see Rutgers not taking the tournament as well. Coming in undefeated in B1G play, off a 3-0 win in the last game of their season at Illinois, and a roster that holds several NWSL draft picks seems like all the right lucky charms in one bowl.
But then again, it’s Rutgers. The expectations are low. Very low.