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Rutgers women’s soccer firmly on NCAA Tournament bubble

After exiting from the Big Ten Tournament following a draw with Wisconsin, the Scarlet Knights begin the waiting game.



Photo credit Rutgers Athletics

No. 6 seed Rutgers women’s soccer was unable to advance out of the Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals on Sunday. In a scoreless 0-0 draw against No. 3 Wisconsin in Madison, the Badgers moved on after winning a penalty shootout 4-1. It was a painful exit for the Scarlet Knights.

Rutgers will now wait until Monday, November 6 to find out if the program will be headed to a 12th straight NCAA Tournament. With a record of 9-6-4 and No. 34 in the RPI rankings, RU is firmly on the bubble. The 64 team tournament field includes over 30 at-large bids. The Scarlet Knights’ draw with No. 20 Wisconsin is not a negative and they could actually move up in the next week. Of course, with conference tournaments in full swing, postseason fates can shift on either side.

Wisconsin dominated the attack against Rutgers, holding a 29-8 shot advantage including 11-4 with shots on goal. The Badgers also held a 12-5 advantage with corner kicks as well.

All-Big Ten Freshman Goalkeeper Olivia Bodmer was fantastic once again. She tied a career high with nine saves, including four in overtime. The game almost ended in regulation, but Sara Brocious cleared the ball off the line in the 89th minute following a header that was on target. Soon after on a corner kick just before the whistle, Rutgers made team save clearing the ball off the line followed by blocking another shot to send the game to overtime.


The Scarlet Knights also had a chance late as Riley Tiernan almost scored on a header on a cross from a corner kick, but Wisconsin keeper Erin McKinney made the last second save. Sara Brocious almost scored early in the 7th minute off a cross from Allison Lowrey, but McKinney made a diving save.

After 20 more minutes of neither team being able to score, the shootout started with McKinney making saves on attempts from both Sam Kroeger and Kylie Daigle. Allison Lowrey connected on the third attempt, but Wisconsin advanced after making its first four attempts.

Despite a disappointing result, Rutgers is now 4-1-1 in its last six games. It will be a long week plus of waiting, but this team has a good shot of earning an at-large berth. I’ll compare the NCAA Tournament resume for Rutgers with other bubble teams later this week ahead of the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on November 6. As of late Sunday night, national soccer reporter Chris Henderson lists RU as No. 7 among at-large berth teams, indicating being safely in.

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  1. Henry Rutgers

    October 30, 2023 at 8:50 am

    The women had control of their destiny. Based on the way they played the OT it looked like they wanted to advance to penalty kicks where they thought the old magic might reappear and they’d steal a win from a better team. The thing is they executed penalty kicks the same way they played, far below their ability. Are they a bubble team? Maybe based on the RPI standings and prior reputation. I’m a huge fan but I wouldn’t pick them for an at large slot unless I needed fodder for a higher seated team.

    This is a program that needs to be rethought from top to bottom and by top, I mean head coach, too. Wisconsin had about 30 shots to our 10. The ratio was about the same for corner kicks. We had no midfield to speak of. Our center forward was abysmal, we clung to players that did not belong on the field for way too long before making changes and then reverted back anyway. Next season, assuming no core players transfer out, we have to replace a lot of critical positions, but we spent little to no time developing replacement players with game experience.

    Forget about the NCAA. Start next season today with improved conditioning and weight training. Hit the transfer portal hard and for goodness’ sake use better judgement than you did with the woman from Georgetown. It is great that we’ve built success mainly around NJ women but the teams we are playing are fielding international talent. If our recruiting is limited to the best PDA has to offer that are interested in playing locally nothing will change. We’ll remain a middle of the pack program until a leadership change is affected. The head coach missed one game due to a tragic family circumstance but what we saw was an Associate Head Coach capable of stepping up, making lineup changes and winning. Forget about the NCAA. Start on 2024 now.

    Aaron, you’ve done a fantastic job building a platform and filling a need. Thank you. However, the highlighting of Brocious ‘saving’ a goal does nothing to account for the three that she hid behind the post or were waist of chest high that she flinched away from. It does not account for the coach’s lack of confidence to insert any other player into the center half position for experience and development. Had she been substituted regularly for 10-15 minutes each half maybe she’d have been able to run to containment versus jog alongside advancing opponents game after game. Which completes the cycle of asking the question of coaching. If they are invited to the NCAA, I’ll be among those that get on a plane and cheer the loudest but I’m of the personal opinion that we need to move on and start preparing for 2024 today. That’s the message Hobbs will have on his desk when he gets in this morning.

    • Aaron Breitman

      October 30, 2023 at 10:23 am

      I respect your opinions and analysis. I agree with some it. But I don’t agree the program should voluntarily remove itself from consideration from the NCAA Tournament. That makes no sense. And Chris Henderson, who reports on a national level, has them safely in the field of 64 as of this morning. I understand your frustrations but this team is 5-2-2 in their last nine games and 4-1-1 in its last six. They aren’t in a free fall.

  2. Henry Rutgers

    October 30, 2023 at 11:02 am

    I did not mean to imply they should voluntarily remove themselves from NCAA consideration. I did, in fact, say if they are selected, I’ll be there in scarlet cheering loudly for them. I meant to say that I personally think it would be better for the program if they aren’t selected and begin to work toward 2024 now versus the distraction of one more loss with players that will not be part of 2024.

    I agree they aren’t in a free fall, but they have been playing far below their potential. I said at the beginning of the season and repeated the comment several times that this was a good but not an elite team. For RU Women’s Soccer the bar is set at elite.

    • pj43

      October 30, 2023 at 3:03 pm

      Appreciate your take on things this season as well as the comments of others. I find myself in complete agreement with your last paragraph. What unsettles me is the issue you brought up concerning the head coach. I don’t know enough to disagree with you, but when I say “unsettled” it’s in regard to the choice of playing time given to some players and evaluation of talent. Has he lost his coaching skills/touch or is there something else going on? Anyway, as always, thanks for the great coverage, Aaron. Hope the team makes the tournament for the sake of the departing players, even though it’ll probably be a short appearance should they be selected.

    • Aaron Breitman

      October 31, 2023 at 9:31 am

      I know you did but I don’t think it’s right to take away any opportunity still available for players that have given the program so much over the years. I think your emotional investment in this program has you rightly frustrated but you may think differently after some time passing. Totally agree a full evaluation of the program moving forward is needed. I full respect your opinions and loyalty.

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