PISCATAWAY, N.J. – It was October 1. Rutgers women’s soccer just fought hard against Iowa in a 1-0 loss. The Scarlet Knights’ record was 5-5-3 and with just five matches to play, they were on the outside looking in of the Big Ten playoff picture.
Riley Tiernan found inspiration in the struggle.
“I read a really good quote that said, ‘Anyone can hide. Facing up to things, working through them, that’s what makes you strong.’ I’d say that perfectly describes this team and our culture we have developed,” Tiernan said.
It has been a mantra the team seemingly adopted as they began to turn their season around. The Scarlet Knights have won four of their last five games of the regular season, including Big Ten victories over Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, and Northwestern to not only clinch a Big Ten Tournament berth, but to enter it with massive momentum.
Tiernan scored her second goal of the season in the win against Michigan. She said the team learned from some mistakes during their non-conference games, which helped them prepare for Big Ten play.
“I think we had a rough start in the non-conference games and coming off of those losses we lacked a little bit of confidence which affected some of our early in conference games,” Tiernan said. “Through the losses, we learned how to battle with diversity and fixed the small details that needed to be fixed. We reached a point where we knew we were losing respect and the only way to get that respect back was to perform the way we know how. We were finally able to change our habits and focus on the small passing game, which is so important. Approaching the game with this style of play is how we were able to relax and gain our confidence back while still being dangerous and threatening our opponents.”
The fluid style of play and precision passing was evident as Rutgers defeated Ohio State, 1-0, with senior Becci Fluchel’s first goal of the season off an assist from graduate student back Allison Lynch.
“The last five games have been really good for the team,” Fluchel said. “Beating Maryland and Michigan was a turning point for us where we started to find ourselves. It hasn’t been perfect since then but we have been gaining momentum and we feel that the postseason will be our time to shine.”
Lynch also spoke on the importance of the last five games, finding confidence on the defensive…