Pirates close season in Piscataway
In an intense finish to the regular season, the Seton Hall women’s soccer team will face the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on the road this Friday in a game that could decide the playoff fates of both squads.
Seton Hall currently sits tied for 4th place in the Big East’s National Division with a record of 4-6, but Rutgers is sitting just outside the playoffs in 6th place with a record of 3-5-2.
The Scarlet Knights are 2-2-1 in their last five games.
Their offensive attack is led by redshirt sophomore Jonelle Filigno who sits atop the team’s scoring list with six goals and 13 points on the season.
On Friday, a Pirate win would ensure that Rutgers misses out on a playoff spot.
In order to make the tournament, the Pirates needs to win or tie the match, or have Villanova lose.
Sitting in the fifth and final playoff spot, Villanova will be playing Georgetown on Friday afternoon before Seton Hall takes on Rutgers.
If Villanova wins its game at Georgetown, the Pirates are in control of their own playoff destiny.
On the other hand, if the Wildcats lose, Seton Hall is guaranteed a spot in the tournament, allowing the Pirates to simply play Rutgers without worrying about the pressure of their playoff future.
Kazbek Tambi added that the pressure of this in-state rivalry game does not faze him.
“We’re not going to do anything very different than what we’ve been doing all year which is trying to be very good in terms of possession of the ball, keeping the ball, creating lots of chances and hopefully getting a couple of goals,” Tambi said.
“There’s nothing unique about this game compared to the others,” he added. “It’s a big game, but in terms of style of play and all that, we’re going to go with what’s worked with us thus far.”
Despite Tambi’s focus on trying to make this game seem like any other game, it is still a rivalry game with playoff implications.
Tambi believes his players will not be affected by the pressure either.
“Yes, there are going to be some butterflies out there and nerves,” he said. “But, I think once the whistle blows and the kids start their running and sweating, then I think it’ll just be another big match, like all of our Big East matches are.
“Once we’re in the flow of the game, I think then the nerves will settle and hopefully we’ll find our game and find our strength and prevail.”
According to Tambi, the key to Seton Hall winning against Rutgers is controlling the tempo and flow of the game.
“I think whichever team can find their rhythm and dictate their style will have the advantage and edge on Friday night,” Tambi said.
With the Pirates’ offensive strategy already planned out, the team is still unsure of one key factor: who would start in goal for the Pirates.
When asked who would get the starting spot on Friday, Tambi would not reveal his decision, only saying that he’s lucky to have two excellent goalies to choose from.
Kick-off for the regular season finale against Rutgers is set for 7 p.m. on Friday in Piscataway, N.J.
Brandon Biskobing can be reached at Brandon.firstname.lastname@example.org.