After Rutgers and Penn State each won at home, a neutral site game Friday sends the winner to the national championship game.
The Rutgers women's soccer team earned a spot in the College Cup in Cary, N.C., after a thrilling shootout win over No. 1 Virginia. The Scarlet Knights are two wins away from a national championshp.
"The fact that we're playing in the Final Four and it's Penn State, it's special to be playing in the game," said head coach Mike O'Neill I think the fact that we're playing Penn State speaks volumes of the strength of Big Ten women's soccer. All year long we've talked about the next game being the most important and it's no different on Friday."
On a roster packed full of New Jersey high school stars, Friday represents another chance to put Rutgers on a national stage in soccer.
"We talk all the time about leaving the program in a better place than when you started it," said senior Cassie Inacio. "I think that this group, especially the seniors, have brought this team to where it is now. It's such a special thing to be a part of, especially for me because I've been here for five years. I've seen the program grow a little bit. The amount of support that we've gotten from Rutgers athletics and people in New Jersey in general has been truly amazing.
"I would never have imagined the amount of suppor that we've gotten. We can't go anywhere without someone coming up to us and saying congratulations. We're rooting for you. We watched the game. It really is an amazing thing."
Off the field, O'Neill also weighed in on the athletic department shakeup regarding Julie Hermann's departure and the full-time addition of Patrick Hobbs.
"I know how much it meant to me, and I don't ever talk about me, and what it meant to the coaching staff and what it meant to the players and what it meant to the family that Julie was there [against Virginia]," he said. "It meant a lot to us because, obviously, there were some things going on that we don't know about. It was really nice that she was with us. I had a chance yesterday to meet Pat and he came up and wished us the best of luck and he met the coaching staff and let us know that he was behind us, which was important. We're excited that he's part of the family."