.The Rutgers University women's soccer team has been attracting some much deserved attention lately - with a large part due to a breath-taking sudden death shootout victory over No. 1 ranked Virginia last Friday.
The victory propelled the Scarlet Knights into today's College Cup semifinal with Big 10 rival Penn State (5 p.m., EST, ESPNU). Duke and Florida State play in the nightcap in Cary, North Carolina.
Rutgers advanced to its first College Cup in the program's history after matching its impenetrable defense against Virginia's loaded offense to the tune of a scoreless draw after regulation and two overtimes. Down 2-0 in penalty kicks, Rutgers began the comeback when goalkeeper Casey Murphy stepped to the line and slotted her penalty. She jogged to the goal and stoned the next Cavalier to give the Scarlet Knights a puncher's chance. Virginia slammed the fifth penalty off the crossbar to send it to sudden-death shootout.
Rutgers made four more penalties. Virginia hit three in a row before Murphy dove to her right to knock away the fourth and send Rutgers to the semifinals. Rutgers pride is also abound on the Sky Blue FC roster. While Carli Lloyd may be Rutgers' most famous alum, here are two Sky Blue FC players who are also Scarlet Knights and following their crew: Rachel Breton and Jonelle Filigno.
"I was mostly biting my nails," said Filigno, who also had a solid World Cup with Canada during the summer. "It was very exciting and they were up at that one point and in the back your mind you just have that doubt that it's not going to happen. You were hoping they can pull through but anything can happen in PKs."
When Filigno was at Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights lost to Virginia twice. "Not at the Elite 8 but once in the Sweet 16 and another in the first round. Obviously I was hoping they would win, but realizing this is a different season and they are different players."
Filigno has posted and texted some congratulatory messages on social media this week. And she says the excitement, at least in New Jersey, is building.
"You can see it on social media and how pumped they are and how excited everyone is," she said. "That's something that's different than when we played. We never had that kind of excitement."
Breton was watching the game online with the sound off and had a philosophical view of the penalty kicks. "Soccer is like life," she said. "Just because things don't look promising, it doesn't mean you lost or won. You have to believe and carry on the hope. Nothing is over until it's over, but you can't let your heart give out."
Like Filigno, she has that Scarlet Pride going.
"There is a sense of pride but moreover, I get excited when people are happy," Breton said. "Moments are all that we are left with and they (Rutgers players) will have that forever.
"I have a dear friend, Cassie Inacio, on the team and she's been through ups and downs in her career having to remove her sesamoid bone in her toe. They said she wouldn't play again and her she is getting another chance and that makes me the happiest."
And hopefully, Breton and Filigno will be happy for at least one more weekend. And then maybe they can make bets with Florida State grad and Sky Blue FC teammate Kristin Grubka.
Filigno: Rutgers will win but it will be a battle. I can see it coming down to the final minute. I'll watch it at home. I don't like to watch soccer with lots of people around. I like to analyze.
Breton: 2-1 Rutgers. I'm going to bet Maya Hayes (Sky Blue teammate and Penn State grad). She can set the consequences. I'll probably watch the game with some Rutgers alums in a pub.
Slater: 1-0, Rutgers. The nation's best defense will provide the clean sheet. One goal will do it. And like Foligno, I'll be home