Knights remain undefeated against Villanova
Hoping to generate an end-of-the-season run, the Rutgers women's lacrosse team needed to right the ship in its second to last game of the season.
And its matchup with Villanova yesterday was exactly what the Scarlet Knights needed.
The Knights (10-6, 4-4) stayed undefeated in their history against the Wildcats with a 13-10 win, putting Rutgers at 18-0 all-time against the Wildcats.
Although the lead ended small, Rutgers generated enough space early on to make it obvious that it would come out with the victory.
Before the Wildcats (5-10, 1-6) ended the game with five unanswered goals, the comfortable lead gave Rutgers the luxury to make adjustments and rest starters.
"It's always good to get the people who don't have as much experience to get a good amount of experience," said head coach Laura Brand. "They got to see the pace of the game, which was key leading into the last game and leading into next year."
Although Rutgers scored 13 goals, it was the strong defense behind it that allowed all 34 shot opportunities.
"We were playing good team defense. We tightened up on cutters," Brand said. "[Sophomore goalie] Lily [Kalata] obviously had a good, solid game, which is obviously going to give our team confidence when we're playing well defensively."
Kalata ended the game with only four goals allowed and nine shots saved in 45 minutes of action, and at that point, Rutgers had the lead in the bag.
"Our defense was able to set up with a lot of saves by playing a defense that forced them to have low-angle shots," Kalata said.
Backup Aimee Chotikul was finished the job in the final 15 minutes with threesaves, including two on the same sequence with 11 minutes remaining from inside the eight-meter arc.
Rutgers also knew its lead was safe when it slowed the game down with a 10-4 lead with 21 minutes to go by establishing a four-minute possession, ending in an Ali Steinberg goal from just outside the crease — her third of four goals in the game.
Rutgers came out hot in the second period with two quick goals in the first minute from attack Katie Marino and midfielder Marlena Welshin the first minute — both off draw control wins to establish a 9-3 lead.
Rutgers won 10 of 13 draw controls at that point to get those possessions and prevent 'Nova opportunities.
Steinbergclosed out the period with two consecutive goals to contribute to her four for the night. The junior bounced it through Wildcats goalie Maggie Langan's legs from the right side when all the 'Nova defenders were on the left.
"It's just finding the connection with the right people and keeping your feet moving," Steinberg said. "A lot of our offense is no one standing still, so if you keep your feet moving, no one's going to be able to stop you."
The Wildcats brought it close when midfielder Justine Donodeo scored to put the score at 5-3 right before 'Nova coach Jebb Chagan called a timeout.
Rutgers started the game off strong by generating a 4-1 lead only eight minutes into the game.
Welsh scored two consecutive goals to add to her fourfor the game and team-leading 34goals on the season.
The Knights put momentum in their favor against Villanova for the home stretch of the season as they hope to end with a winning conference record.