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Women’s soccer to visit Rutgers Saturday in first round of NCAA tournament

Not selected for home game, Bruno will visit New Jersey

<p>Rutgers, averaging 2.2 goals per game and having the most in the Big Ten, will have to deal with Bruno, allowing an Ivy-League-best 0.75 goals per game.</p>

Rutgers, averaging 2.2 goals per game and having the most in the Big Ten, will have to deal with Bruno, allowing an Ivy-League-best 0.75 goals per game.

The women’s soccer team (12-2-2, 5-0-1 Ivy League) will visit Rutgers University (13-4-2, 5-3-2 Big Ten) Saturday for their first game of the NCAA tournament.

The Bears earned their spot after going undefeated in Ivy League play for the third straight season. Despite being ranked 28th in the NCAA Real Power Index, the Bears were not ranked in the top 32 teams by the NCAA tournament selection committee, meaning they will not host a home game. Of the 64 teams in the field, the top half play at home and are seeded within separate quadrants.

Fifth-seeded Rutgers has lost three games in a row, each by one goal, after going 13-1-2 in the start of the season. That run included a 2-0 win against Ohio State University — a team Brown fell to earlier in the season 3-2.

The Scarlet Knights average 2.2 goals per game, the most in the Big Ten. 

But Rutgers will have to break through a Bruno defense that allowed an Ivy-League-best 0.75 goals per game, and will have to deal with Brown forwards Brittany Raphino ’23 and Ava Seelenfreund ’23.5, who led a Bears attack that has averaged three goals per game.

“The good thing about our team is that we’ve played difficult opponents in the past. Rutgers is a great team, but so are we,” Head Coach Kia McNeill said.

Multiple teams who ranked below Brown in the RPI received a more favorable seed than the Bears. North Carolina State University and the University of Portland were ranked 39th and 41st, respectively, but each were given a No. 8 seed and will play their first-round matchups at home. Harvard, who finished behind Brown in the Ivy League standings, was given a No. 6 seed and will host the University of New Hampshire. 

“It was a little disappointing not to host a game. It’s been a great atmosphere (at home) the last few seasons,” Raphino said. “But we’ve been successful on the road before. So we’ll be ok, we’ll fight through this.” 

The Bears hope to go further in the NCAA tournament than last year, when they fell to St. John’s University 1-0 in overtime at home. In 2019, Brown advanced after beating Monmouth University on penalty kicks in the first round, later losing to top-seeded Florida State University 2-0.

Should the Bears advance, they will face the winner of the matchup between the University of California, Irvine and the University of Southern California. 

“You have to build a championship mentality and this team has been part of the NCAA tournament the past couple of years,” McNeill said. “We’ve been able to get some of those nerves out … so, this time, it’s just about showing up and playing like ourselves.”



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