Rutgers women’s soccer released its schedule recently for the 2023 season. 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. The non-conference schedule provides several challenging tests as usual while the Big Ten provides many highly ranked teams from last season.
With training camp rapidly approaching, Rutgers will host two preseason scrimmages at Yurcak Field against BYU on Thursday, August 10 and Colgate on Sunday, August 13. The season begins on Thursday, August 17 with RU hosting Holy Cross at 7:00 p.m.
Here are three takeaways on the 2023 schedule for Rutgers women’s soccer.
Difficult Five Game Non-Conference Stretch Is Good Preparation for Big Ten Play
Following the season opener, the Scarlet Knights will face four NCAA Tournament teams from last season and its in-state rival all in a row. They’ll host Hofstra on Sunday, August 20 at 7:00 p.m. who finished with a No. 92 RPI ranking last season. A major road test is next at NC State on Thursday, August 24 at 7:00 p.m. The Wolfpack have advanced to six consecutive NCAA Tournaments and have 18 players returning after finishing No. 36 in the RPI rankings last season. Rutgers will then host defending NEC Tournament champions FDU on Monday, August 28 at 5:00 p.m.
A road game against Princeton takes place at their newly remodeled Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium on Thursday, August 31 at 7:00 p.m. The Tigers finished No. 93 in the RPI rankings last season and it’s always a battle between the two New Jersey schools. The challenging stretch ends with a high profile home game against Georgetown on Monday September, 4 at 1:00 p.m. The Hoyas (No. 18) have been to 11 straight NCAA Tournaments and are 4-0-1 against RU during that period. The Scarlet Knights own the all-time series lead at 12-18-1.
Opportunity Knocking in Big Ten Title Race
Rutgers hosts the best of the league with all three conference teams that finished in the top 20 of the RPI rankings last season set to visit Yurcak Field. They’ll host Penn State on Thursday, September 21 at 7:00 p.m. a year after the Nittany Lions finished No. 7 in RPI, won the Big Ten Tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16.
The last three Big Ten regular season games for Rutgers are all against opponents who made the NCAA Tournament last season. RU hosts defending Big Ten regular season champion Michigan State on Sunday, October 15 at 1:00 p.m. The Spartans were unbeaten at 9-0-1 in league play and finished No. 16 in the RPI rankings. After a road trip to Ohio State on Thursday, October 19 at 6:00 p.m. who finished No. 31 last fall, Rutgers ends the regular season at home against Northwestern on Sunday, October 22 at 1:00 p.m. The Wildcats were No. 14 in RPI last season and advanced to the Sweet 16. The battle for the top of the Big Ten standings will likely involve all of these teams once again and Rutgers has an advantage in playing most of them at Yurcak Field.
Veteran Team Built To Bounce Back
After a 13-1-2 start to last season, Rutgers lost its last four games of the 2022 campaign, including first round exits in both the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament. Injuries were certainly an issue, including losing defensive stalwart Emily Mason down the stretch. Even so, for a program that prides itself on winning championships, it was a disappointing and shocking end last fall. The good news is that O’Neill’s squad returns 12 major contributors from last season including its top seven goal scorers and point leaders. Replacing program great Meagan McClelland in goal is crucial to this season. However, this team is stacked with talent and experience. A nationally ranked recruiting class joins the fold as well. The Scarlet Knights also added grad transfer Gia Vicari, a three-time First Team All-Big East selection from Georgetown to bolster the offense.
The most consistently successful program at Rutgers has a chance to be very good once against this fall. Having a competitive non-conference slate along with playing the top league foes at home combined with the veteran roster puts this program in a great position entering the fall. Competing for a Big Ten title and deep NCAA Tournament run should absolutely be the goal once again. Stay tuned for more preview coverage leading up to the program’s season opener on August 17.
The slate is new. The mentality is the same: win ’em all.
— RUTGERS WOMEN’S SOCCER (@RUWSoccer) July 17, 2023
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