Rutgers women’s soccer kicks off the 2023 season on Thursday night at home against Holy Cross. The Scarlet Knights are coming off of a 13-5-2 campaign last fall that ended with a four game losing streak. Despite a disappointing end to last season, RU finished No. 29 in the RPI rankings. Head coach Mike O’Neill’s squad returns many contributors from last season as the program advanced to a 11th straight NCAA Tournament. There are reasons to believe this team is in position for another strong season this fall.
On Tuesday, the Big Ten Preseason Coaches Poll projected Rutgers to finish in third place in the conference. After winning the regular season title with a perfect 10-0-0 mark in 2021, the Scarlet Knights finished in a four-way tie for fourth place last season at 5-3-2.
Ten starters return from last season including the seven top points leaders. The league names three Big Ten Players to Watch for each team and Rutgers had Riley Tiernan, Sara Brocious and Becci Fluchel included in the preseason poll.
Tiernan was also named to the United Soccer Coaches National Players to Watch list for forwards for the second straight year. She had four goals and six assists last season following a standout debut that notched Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors. In just two seasons, Tiernan is already 8th all-time in program history with 19 career assists.
Brocious was tied for second on the team with 17 points last season with 5 goals and 7 assists. The Second Team All-Big Ten selection is 12th all-time with 16 career assists.
Fluchel is an instrumental part of the stout Rutgers defense while also having contributed with 3 goals and 4 assists last season. Getting star defender Emily Mason back from injury will be key to the success of this team as well.
Rutgers also welcomes three-time First Team All-Big East selection Gia Vicari to the mix up front on offense.
Finding a replacement for longtime stalwart in goalkeeper Meagan McClelland will be key to taking a step forward this season.
In addition, Rutgers has its top two goal scorers returning in Sam Kroeger and Allison Lowrey. On a recent episode of The Scarlet Faithful podcast, Kroeger spoke about the lessons learned from last season and the expectations for this fall for RU. with a challenging schedule once again, this talented team will be tested early and often. It all starts on Thursday night as head coach Mike O’Neill’s program looks to compete for a conference and national championship once again.
Here is the full Big Ten Preseason Coaches Poll.
2023 Women’s Soccer Preseason Poll
- Penn State
- Michigan State
- Ohio State
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