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"Knight Writers"

Etou, Daniels Propel Rutgers to First Win

By Lance Glinn

The Rutgers men’s basketball team improved their record to 1-1 with a 17-point victory over the Farleigh Dickinson Knights 61-44 in front of a small crowd of 4,102 at the RAC Wednesday night. Junior guard Bishop Daniels led Rutgers with 18 points on 7 of 11 shooting from the field in 34 minutes. Sophomore forward Junior Etou also notched his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 14 rebounds in 30 minutes played for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights led throughout most of the game with Farleigh Dickinson’s only lead being 2-0 with 19:17 left in the first half.

Although Rutgers accomplished their first win of the season, the team failed to close out and bury Farleigh Dickinson, as turnovers again plagued the Scarlet Knights. With 18 total turnovers in the game by Rutgers, 11 of which came in the second half, Greg Herenda’s Knights were able to claw their way back into the game, cutting the lead to 7 with 4:30 left to play on a Matt Macdonald layup.

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Transfer Bishop Daniels scored 18 points for Rutgers in their first win of the season. (Photo Credit: Mel Evans, AP)

Myles Mack took back all momentum on a three pointer at 3:49 of the second half from the middle of the key with no time left on the shot clock to bring the lead back to double digits. Coach Eddie Jordan, happy that a shot like that went in Rutgers favor, said postgame that, “We’ve had those happen to us in the past. Even last year, they hit a three at the end of the clock that was a big shot for them. But you’ve got to get lucky sometimes, and you work hard for your luck.”

Coach Jordan went on to praise both Etou and Daniels for their leadership and outstanding play during the game saying “They were great, I hated to take them off the floor. Bishop made some great plays, just fundamentally sound plays, and Junior was just a stud defensively, guarding guys in the post, 4’s and 5’s and 3’s, and guarding on the perimeter”.

This was certainly a magnanimous game for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights defensively, holding Farleigh Dickinson’s two leading scorers, Matt Macdonald and Mustafaa Jones, to a combined 19 points and the Knights to 30 percent shooting on 18 for 60 from the field, and holding them to only 8 attempted free throws.

Rutgers was again without star forward Kadeem Jack and Coach Eddie Jordan is unsure if he will be available for the Scarlet Knights’ next game, saying that “we have a day off tomorrow, so Friday he will get on the floor with his team and see how it goes, and hopefully he is ready for Sunday”.

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights return to the RAC on Sunday, November 23rd, against the St. Francis – Brooklyn Terriers in their opening game of the Barclays Classic. Tip off is scheduled for 5:00 PM and will be broadcast on WRSU 88.7 FM.

Scarlet Knights Down Northeastern

By Eric Mullin

The Rutgers women’s basketball team improved to 2-0 on their young season with a 74-60 home victory over Northeastern on Tuesday.  Rutgers was led by sophomore guard Tyler Scaife, who had 15 points while shooting 7/15 from the field.  Senior forward Betnijah Laney notched her second double-double in a row with 14 points and 13 rebounds.  Junior point guard Briyona Canty also recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists.

Although Rutgers was able to secure their second consecutive win, their struggles on the offensive end in the first half continued for the second straight game.  Despite Northeastern shooting just 32%, committing 12 turnovers, and going on an eight-minute scoring drought in the middle of first half, Rutgers failed to capitalize on Northeastern’s mistakes as Rutgers themselves committed 9 turnovers and 8 fouls.

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Junior Briyona Canty recorded a double-double against the Huskies, finishing with 12 points and 10 assists. (Photo Credit: Andrew Mills | NJ Advance Media)

Rutgers played their best basketball of the first half in the final two minutes when they were able to go on an 8-0 run and gain some momentum heading into halftime up by 10 points.

“We weren’t as intense or as sharp as we needed to be, we needed to look to attack and not settle for jumpers”, Coach Stringer said of her team’s slow start.  She also added that she thought the Scarlet Knights just need to “focus more” in order to solve their first-half struggles.

Rutgers carried that momentum into the second half as they came out looking like the one of the top-25 teams in the country.  The Scarlet Knights cranked up the pressure on the defensive end to start the second half, which gave way to a 10-2 run in the first three minutes of the second half to extend their lead to 18.  Led by point guard Briyona Canty, who tallied 10 points and 7 assists in the second-half alone, Rutgers would eventually extend their lead to a game high 28-points with just over eight minutes to go in the second half.

“Not saying much, I feel like with this group being as senior-bound and junior-bound as they are they need to know, just as simple as that” Coach Stringer said of how they approached half-time adjustments.  Being that she has an older, more experienced team, Coach Stringer said that she “speaks to them technically” about making adjustments such as “we’ve got to rebound, we need to block out, we need to push the ball down the floor”.

Rutgers obviously executed the adjustments made at halftime, as they would go on to shoot 51.5%.  After allowing St. Joe’s to stick around in the early stages of the second half in their first game, Rutgers never allowed Northeastern to make this a close game as they kept their lead above twenty points for the majority of the second half.

Northeastern dropped to 1-1 on the season as they struggled to find consistency on the offensive end.  They finished shooting just 36.7% from the field.  Northeastern also committed a total of 22 turnovers, which led to 23 points on the other end for Rutgers.  Northeastern was led by junior-guard Tiffany Montagne who scored a game-high 22 points, including shooting 5 of 8 from beyond the arc.  Senior-guard Samantha DeFreese also added 13 points and 5 rebounds.

The Rutgers women’s next game is this Saturday when they visit Louisiana State University at 3:00 P.M. eastern time.  Tune into WRSU for coverage of the game.

Game Nuggets

  • Junior Center, Rachel Hollivay came off the bench after starting the first game. She finished with 10 points and 1 block.
  • Tyler Sciafe appeared to go down with a lower-body injury early in the first-half. She went to the locker room for a few minutes, but would return for the rest of the game.  After the game she said that she was “A-Ok”.
  • In the first half, Northeastern had a stretch where they went over eight minutes without scoring and over nine minutes without a field-goal.
  • Five Rutgers players reached double figures in scoring.

Slow Start Dooms Rutgers in Season Opener

By Gregory Lenzi

Piscataway, NJ. — Rutgers opened their 2014 men’s basketball season at home against George Washington Colonials with a tough loss, dropping the Sunday night contest by a final score of 70-53.

mack gw

Senior Myles Mack had 14 points Sunday, but it wasn’t enough for the Knights to win their season opener. (Photo Credit: scarletknights.com)

The Scarlet Knights, in their first game as a member of the Big 10, struggled to get going as they started 0-10 from the field, including 0-4 from three-point range. It was a three from Myles Mack at 14:37 in the first half that finally got Rutgers on the board.

George Washington grabbed the early first half lead and got 10 first half points from junior guard Kethan Savage who added four rebounds and two assists.

In a first half of runs a Bishop Daniels jumper at 10:06 brought Rutgers within two down 11-9 but George Washington would answer.

George Washington would go on a 7-0 run of their own to extend their lead to 10 with 7:08 remaining in the half.

Rutgers would go to the half down 33-21, after a last second tip-in attempt by freshman Mike Williams at the buzzer was no good.

Neither team shot particularly well in the first half George Washington shot 33.3% from the field while Rutgers shot only 20.7%.

Coming out of the half it was George Washington who caught fire getting 11 from Joe McDonald and 10 from Kethan Savage.

Rutgers struggles continued in the second half getting only four points from senior Myles Mack and ending up with 16 total turnovers as a team.

Rutgers head coach Eddie Jordan gave credit to George Washington calling them a tournament team “saying they got into Myles early and without Kadeem Jack we struggled.”

When asked what he said to this players afterward Jordan said “we got punched in the mouth and they made shots, but ultimately we just didn’t convert”

Rutgers is unsure if they will have Kaddem Jack for their next game Wednesday at home against Fairly Dickinson.

The Scarlet Knights’ next three games are at home giving them the chance to rebound from this tough 0-1 start.

 

 

Rutgers Soars Past Hawks in Opener

By Lea Ginefra

In Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer’s words, her team “did the things they [we] needed to do.”

The defending WNIT Champion Rutgers Scarlet Knights earned themselves their first win against the Saint Joseph’s Hawks tonight 76-52 for their 2014-15 opener at the Rutgers Athletic Center.

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Sophomore Tyler Scaife led the way with 23 points for the Scarlet Knights in their season opener. (Photo Credit: scarletknights.com)

Sophomore Tyler Scaife, set the tempo of the game early with her usual explosive, yet confident nature. With a total of 23 points, she claimed the spot of leading scorer for both the Knights and the Hawks. But in the post game press conference, she didn’t take all of the credit. Scaife noted, “my team just did a good job of finding me,” and that her increased confidence this season might have aided her in her performance. Briyona Canty, Kahleah Copper, and Betnijah Laney added double digits as well for Rutgers to take their 24-point lead.

Not only did the offense impress for Rutgers, the defense stepped up as well. One of St. Joes’ biggest threats coming into the game was senior guard Natasha Cloud, averaging 11.5 points per game and previously named Preseason A-10 All Conference First Team. Rutgers’ top-notch defense managed to hold her to only three points for the entire game. Three-point bomber Kathleen Fitzpatrick initially showed that she was capable of scoring, but could not execute in the end. Going 3-7 at the 3-point line, our own Dylan Mruczinski called her deep shots NBA distance.

Rutgers encountered some trouble of their own in the beginning of the first half committing seven of their 11 turnovers. At first what looked like a reoccurring problem for the Knights, quickly cleared up. Soon the sloppiness was in the hands of St. Joes as they acquired a total of 21 turnovers by the end of the game.

While the game seemed to be progressing smoothly, with Rutgers holding the lead for almost the entire game, trouble abruptly hit. After a rebound as picked up by Canty and dished to Copper down court for the easy two points, Copper appeared to experience some lower leg pain. She struggled for a little to get back down the court on defense and eventually fell to the ground in what looked to be excruciating pain. Coach Stringer cleared up afterwards that Copper was experiencing some major leg cramps in her right calf, but she would be fine in no time.

Regardless if Copper was in the game or not, “Everybody stepped it up in a big way,” said Betnijah Laney.

This game was only a preview of the Rutgers Scarlet Knight’s first B1G 10 season. With one win down, the Knights face the Northeastern University Huskies at home on Tuesday the 18th at 7p.m.

Tune into to 88.7 WRSU FM that night for another live broadcast of the game, or catch the broadcast at http://radio.rutgers.edu/.

 

 

 

Rutgers Women’s Basketball Media Day 2014

By James Stumper Jr.

The Rutgers women’s basketball team held their annual media day Wednesday morning at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway. The term of the day was “excitement”, as it’s clear that the 2014 WNIT Champions are eager to get back out onto the court and start their inaugural Big Ten campaign.

c vivian stringer media day

Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer meets the media at the RAC.

Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer, entering her 20th season as head coach of the Scarlet Knights, is at the helm of an experienced team this season. Rutgers returns all five of their starters from last year, and has added two junior college transfers who can shoot the three-pointer, Natalie Parsons and Cynthia Hernandez.

The Scarlet Knights all expressed major excitement when they discussed Rutgers becoming a Big Ten team.

Senior Christa Evans is pumped to join the Big Ten, especially after competing in the Big East and the American Athletic Conference the last two seasons.

“It’s great,” she said “It’s another challenge – it’s gonna be competitive and we’re excited to get started.”

“I’m excited for the new competition,” said junior Kahleah Copper, RU’s leading scorer and the WNIT MVP, “I’m just excited to be in the Big Ten.”

There certainly will be plenty of new competition, as an entirely different slate of conference games awaits the Scarlet Knights. In addition to having to compete with conference powers such as Penn State, Michigan State and Nebraska, the Knights also have quite a challenging non-conference schedule as well.

“I’m really excited for Tennessee and North Carolina to come here,” said sophomore Alex Alfano.

Those two games will likely be the most difficult games on the non-conference schedule, which also includes a trip to Baton Rouge for a date with the LSU Tigers.

Rutgers womens

The Scarlet Knights, coming off a WNIT title, are ready to go in their inaugural Big Ten season.

The Scarlet Knights are clearly focused on making the NCAA Tournament this season, something they haven’t done since 2012, but have done 23 times in team history. Many thought they should have been in the NCAA Tournament last season, but the selection committee had other ideas, and the Scarlet Knights went on to win the Women’s NIT.

While an NIT title is nice, many Scarlet Knights felt they were robbed of an opportunity to compete in college basketball’s marquee event.

“It’s like a big old chip on our shoulder,” said junior Rachel Hollivay, “we’ve got something to prove.”

Senior Betnijah Laney echoed that sentiment.

“It wasn’t an ideal situation,” said Laney, “we take that, we look at it to see what we’ve accomplished. It’s given us something to build off of.”

Laney is confident heading into the year, adding “I think this season is going to be really special for us.”

As mentioned, the Scarlet Knights return all five starters from last season, but there are a few key additions, mainly two junior college transfers – Natalie Parsons and Cynthia Hernandez. The Knights struggled mightily shooting the three last year, doing so at just a 28% clip. In junior college, Parsons and Hernandez shot the three at 35.3% and 43.2% respectively.

“Having us being able to shoot that three-pointer,” said Parsons, “it really opens up everyone else as well.”

Parsons isn’t shying away from the chance to knock down a big shot in a Big Ten venue, either.

“I cannot wait,” she said, “those are the moments you dream of.”

The entire Rutgers team is excited to have added that layer of offense that they were missing last season, and they believe it could be a big help.

“I’m very excited,” said sophomore Tyler Scaife of the newcomers, “They’re going to open up the floor a lot.”

Excitement was the general feel from the Rutgers women’s basketball team at today’s media day, and why not? Coming off a WNIT title season and returning the entire starting lineup, the Knights are poised to make an impact during their first season in the Big Ten.

“This team is not going to disappoint you,” said C. Vivian Stringer, “we’re going to give you a show that you will not believe.”

Rutgers Media Day 2014 – Men’s Basketball

By Dylan Mruczinski

Tuesday afternoon, Rutgers held their Media Day at the RAC in Piscataway as the inaugural Big Ten season approaches. ‘Excitement’ was the word of the day as every person in attendance understood the importance of a good start to the season.

Eddie Jordan Media Day

Eddie Jordan meets with the media at the RAC. (Photo: James Stumper Jr.)

Second-year Head Coach Eddie Jordan started off the media conference composed and collected as he praised his staff and team for the work they have put in during the offseason. Perhaps the most compelling quote in Coach Jordan’s opening statement was “We’re excited about being in the Big Ten, the top conference in the country.” With plenty of NBA experience from himself and his staff, Coach Jordan appeared more than ready for the B1G competition ahead and will be looking to his two senior leaders in Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack to carry the team.

Coach Jordan stressed the importance of getting better everyday as the season progresses, something that Power Forward Kadeem Jack did tremendously last year. Coach Jordan even called Jack the impact player and strength of the team. The senior big man became a double-digit scorer for the Scarlet Knights last season (14.3 ppg) and has embraced the vocal leadership role of the team.

“My role is to keep the tone of the team, and bringing the high energy and high intensity to practice,” Jack said.

Coach Jordan believes Jack’s potential has yet to be fully tapped and has enjoyed watching the young man develop. Throughout the offseason, Kadeem has worked extensively on his 8-12 foot jumper along with bringing high intensity to practice day in and day out.

Another key to Eddie Jordan’s offense will be the NJ native, Point Guard Myles Mack. Mack was the lead scorer for Rutgers last season and has his mind set on a “Big Ten focus.” One thing Mack has worked on this offseason is coming off of ball screens, while keeping his lethal first step off the dribble intact. Myles Mack, once seen as a pure scorer in his high school days is ready to take on an up tempo style of play against Big Ten competition.

“We’re an East coast style team,” said Mack in reference to the up-tempo style of offense Rutgers will bring to its new conference. Mack has also worked on his on-the-ball defense, something that will be of vital importance come Big Ten play with the great guards the conference always boasts.

Myles Media Day

Senior Myles Mack is embracing his leadership role. (Photo: James Stumper Jr.)

Other than the seniors Mack, Jack, and Malick Kone, this is a young Rutgers squad in terms of experience. This team however, is bigger than last year, something that Coach Jordan stressed during his time at the podium. “Competing at the rim” something Coach Jordan has seen every practice from his team is another thing to be excited about. Junior Greg Lewis will certainly take on a bigger role in the front court. Coach Jordan called Lewis “the most consistent practice player” thus far and insisted that making his shots will be key to Rutgers success. Another exciting big man is Sophomore Junior Etou who looks to improve his already stout defense. Cousin of the Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka, Etou has been influenced by his relative’s angry defensive presence on the floor. With Coach Jordan wanting to bring a new style to the Big Ten, it will be important for Etou and the rest of Rutgers’ bigs to be disruptive.

The Scarlet Knights are also going to be looking toward some new faces for production. JUCO transfer Bishop Daniels is primed to see a ton of action to secure the back court. You could tell that Daniels has that natural born leadership throughout interviews and is a player that could play a bigger role this season than many anticipate. Freshman newcomers, D.J. Foreman and Mike Williams have impressed in practice along with Shaquille Doorson, a 6’11 Center from the Netherlands. These 3 youngsters offer a promising future for the Knights and will all play a role later in the season.

Overall, it seems that Eddie Jordan has done a quality job in just his first two years as Head Coach. The players all buy into the system and staff he has assembled. Most importantly, the future of Rutgers Men’s Basketball looks to be in good hands of an extremely confident and intelligent basketball mind. Many believe that Rutgers will struggle in its first season as a member of the Big Ten, with the help of a competitive non-conference schedule that won’t ease the transition. Yet the players and coaches alike are well aware of expectations and ready to excite.

Rutgers opens the regular season against George Washington home at the RAC on November 16th after an exhibition game welcoming Baruch College on November 8th.

The Evolution of Gary Nova

By Dylan Mruczinski

Up and down.

Then up again.

Down again.

Down.

Down.

Down once more.

Up and up.

This poetic sequence of up and downs seems to depict Gary Nova’s career as a four-year starter at Rutgers. Nova has been forever criticized by the energetic media hub that is the Tri-State area, yet has remained tough this season in his effort to regain confidence and put forth his best play that every football fan knows he is capable of.

The senior QB out of Elmwood Park, NJ is looking to lead the Scarlet Knights to their fourth straight bowl berth, 10th postseason visit all time, and first as a member of the Big Ten. Heading into the 2nd half of the 2014 season, Nova understands his role as a leader and his importance to this Rutgers offense that has averaged 426.7 ypg so far that has Rutgers on pace for its best offensive production since the 2008 season.

Nova Mel Evans AP

It seems as if Gary Nova has finally found some consistency: will he be able to keep it up? (Photo: Mel Evans/AP)

With a 5-1 record and only in-conference games left to play, Gary Nova (other than a turnover-ridden performance against Penn State) has been borderline flawless as the quarterback of New Jersey’s team. Nova’s statistics tell the tale of the major jump he has made this season. His completion percentage is currently 62%, up 5% since his 2012 career high. While completing more passes and in turn making better decisions when throwing, Nova has not sacrificed the ability to gain yards through the air which typically occurs when quarterbacks see their completion percentage rise. His yards per attempt (10.67 YPA) is up over 3.5 yards from his previous 3 year total. The Rutgers faithful have fallen in love with the crisp 15-yard in/post route that Nova has perfected, time and time again to his receivers this season that is a major factor in boosting his YPA. Additionally, Nova is on pace to set career highs for passing yards, touchdowns, and QB rating this season.

So what exactly is in Nova’s drinking water this Fall you may ask? Why has he flourished in a year that saw key receivers Ruhann Peele and Andre Patton fall to injuries before the start of the season? Better yet, how is Nova posting career numbers in a year that everybody and their mothers saw as a scheduling death-trap against the Big Ten’s elite schools from both divisions?

The answer may be the influence of his extremely over-qualified Offensive Coordinator, Ralph “The Fridge” Friedgen. No stranger to changes in the playbook, Nova welcomed Friedgen as his fourth offensive coordinator in as many years he has been at Rutgers. The Fridge, who has helped restore Nova’s confidence, will now look to lean on Gary even more late in the season as the running game took a huge hit with the loss of RB Paul James to an ACL tear.

One thing that goes undocumented in the stat books is Friedgen’s influence on Nova’s ability to use his legs. Other improvements in Nova’s game this year include his acknowledgment of the coverage downfield and the tremendous out-of-pocket presence he has exhibited so far in RU’s inaugural Big Ten campaign. Prior to this season, Nova had rushed for 1 touchdown while this year, he already has 3. Nova has also never finished the season with positive rushing yards, due to sacks counting against QB rush yards, one of the NCAA rules that differ from the NFL.

Tulane v Rutgers

Photo: Getty Images

It can be presumed that Friedgen’s offensive mind noticed this in film prior to the season and continues to encourage Nova to ‘tuck it and run’ when the pass downfield is not there. This season may be the year that Nova finally eclipses the 0 rushing yard stat due to his escapability out of the pocket. It seems that Gary Nova is playing at the comfort level in the pocket he showed back at Don Bosco Prep where he won two state championships.

There is no doubt that Gary Nova’s most legacy-determining games are yet to come with a tough three-game stretch against more B1G elite: Ohio State, Nebraska, and the often dreadful homecoming game, this time vs Wisconsin. Perhaps Nova’s most telling game about his progression will be in a visit to East Lansing taking on nations fourth-ranked defense in Michigan State. Nova having already surpassed previous QB and now graduate assistant Mike Teel’s all-time TD record looks to extend the mark against some of the Big Ten’s best. Nova’s toughness might be his best trait, something that is needed to excel at the next level. As one of the top Pro-Style QB recruits in 2011 Gary Nova is now looking to establish himself as one of the best senior signal callers to enter next years 2015 NFL draft. With a strong finish to the season and rising draft stock, don’t be surprised if you wind up hearing Nova’s name called this spring.

Next on Rutgers schedule are the No.13 Ohio State Buckeyes, where prestigious head coach Urban Meyer has already praised Gary Nova’sxceptional play against Michigan this season. “He had the day of days against our rival,” Coach Meyer said at this week’s Big Ten coach teleconference.

If Gary Nova and Rutgers want to continue their success, the senior quarterback is going to have to keep trending up in Columbus.

Women’s Soccer Impressive in first B1G Season

By Dominick Savino

If you asked around the Hale Center to find out which individual or team is the Rutgers athletic department’s best-kept secret, you’d receive a wealth of varying answers. Some would say Kemoko Turay, the redshirt freshman defensive end who came into the season a virtual unknown yet currently leads the Big Ten with 5.5 sacks. Others might say the wrestling team, which was quietly slotted at No. 19 on the initial Associated Wrestling Press rankings released on Monday. A few humorists might even say Gary Nova, who—despite his dutiful service as the football team’s eternal scapegoat—has led the football team to a 5-1 record and sits at 5th in the FBS in passing efficiency. Well, with no knock against these nominees, I’m happy to inform you that all of those answers would be horribly wrong.

Enter the No. 14/7 Rutgers Women’s Soccer team from stage left. Yes, you read that right; they’re ranked No. 7 in the country according to Tuesday’s rankings by Soccer America, the highest the Scarlet Knights have been in any poll in program history. It’s important to understand that the rankings system for D1 Women’s Soccer is a bit different from the norm, as there are two news outlets, a coaches’ association, and a NCAA soccer organization that each release their own weekly rankings of equal repute. However, the rankings across the board have been nothing short of impressive. In addition to the No. 7 ranking by Soccer America, the team is No. 15 according to TopDrawerSoccer, No. 14 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll, and No. 13 on the NCAA RPI list.

Casey Murphy Tian Li Daily Targum

Casey Murphy has impressed thus far. (Photo: Tian Li, The Daily Targum)

With its record-breaking ranking and a 10-1-1 record, it would be logical to assume that the team is led by a strong nucleus of seniors, but then you’d be wrong again. Perhaps the most important player on this year’s team is the one preventing all the goals rather than the one scoring them, as freshman goalkeeper Casey Murphy has been absolutely sensational. In her first season of college soccer—let alone Big Ten soccer— Murphy has started all 12 of the team’s matches, played all but two minutes and 30 seconds of them, and conceded only four goals. If her 0.33 Goals Against Average (GAA) and 0.902 save percentage don’t jump off the page enough, her current streak of 434 minutes without a goal conceded might do the trick. In that time span, Murphy has picked up four consecutive clean sheets, including her most recent in University Park against then-No. 6/7 Penn State, a team that came into the contest averaging 2.85 goals per game.

Madison Tiernan Tian Li Daily Targum

Madison Tiernan has been a key cog in RU’s offense. (Photo Credit: Tian Li, The Daily Targum)

Despite Murphy’s phenomenal play, it would be incorrect to overlook the success that the rest of the team has sustained, primarily from its forwards. Senior Stefanie Scholz and sophomore Madison Tiernan have been invaluable to the offense, netting nine of the team’s 22 total goals. With the game on the line, the team has looked to these two forwards to provide scoring, and Scholz and Tiernan have delivered by scoring a combined 6 of the team’s 10 game-winning goals. However, the forward duo has greatly benefitted from the other offensive threats that make up the attacking midfield and forward ranks, as nine other players have scored at least once thus far. Senior midfielder Amy Pietrangelo and sophomore forward Jessica Puchalski each have 3 assists, and Pietrangelo has added 3 goals to establish herself as a potent scoring option when in the attacking half.

Even with Rutgers’s sustained offensive output and Murphy’s near-invincibility in net, the team’s defensive midfielders and defenders have locked down their opponents and assisted Murphy by limiting the amount of legitimate scoring chances that she has to save. The defenders have been anchored by junior centerbacks Brianne Reed and Erica Skroski, who along with Murphy are the only three players to log more than 1,000 minutes on the field. As a result, Reed and Skroski are two of the most prominent reasons why the team has conceded only 42 shots on goal, fewest in the Big Ten.

With such an outstanding start, it’s easy to forget about the significant changes that the program endured over the summer. Most obvious is the University’s move to the Big Ten, where the Scarlet Knights were predicted to finish 8th out of 14 teams by the Big Ten Women’s Soccer Preseason Coaches’ Poll. Sporting a 6-1-1 conference record, the Scarlet Knights are currently tied for 3rd place in the Big Ten and have defeated both of the teams above them (Penn and State and Michigan) with 1-0 victories. Additionally, in July, head coach Glenn Crooks retired after 14 years at the helm, finishing as the second-winningest head coach in program history. Crooks handed the team over to long-time assistant head coach Mike O’Neill, who has mitigated the growing pains that come with a coaching shift by employing many of the formations and coaching philosophies that helped Crooks achieve success.

With a new head coach, a new conference, and a relatively young cast of players, this Rutgers Women’s Soccer team had every good reason to miserably fail, and most predictions forecasted a 2014 campaign for the Scarlet Knights that wasn’t too far removed from that worst possible scenario, but this team hasn’t let changes and youth ruin its season. In fact, they’ve embraced these potential pitfalls and made them cornerstones to their success. For those exact reasons, this team is good—really good, even great— and chances are you don’t even know about it.

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