Rutgers rallies to split trip, end Big East losing streak
The Rutgers women's lacrosse team ended its weekend on a high note with a 12-9 win yesterday against Cincinnati to end a Big East slump, which most recently showed up in Friday's 10-8 loss to Louisville.
The Scarlet Knights (8-5, 2-3) finished the game with four consecutive goals against the Bearcats in the final 10 minutes.
"At that moment we played a lot harder on 50/50 balls, and that's what we needed to pull the win out," said head coach Laura Brand.
Junior Danielle Mascera ended the game with her second goal of the matchup, a career-high for the attack.
But Cincinnati (2-11, 0-5) did not go down easily. The Bearcats led, 9-8, by capitalizing on two Rutgers turnovers for as many goals before the Knights' scoring run.
Those goals were the final Cincinnati goals of the day, as Rutgers did not allow a point in the final 12 minutes of play.
The Bearcats generated a few scoring runs throughout the day, such as their three-goal run to start the second half which created a 7-6 lead.
Rutgers had a 27-19 shot advantage to end the game, but the Cincinnati defense made it difficult for the Knights to put together scoring drives, especially with Bearcats goalie Jen Walsh's 12 saves.
"In the first half we shot right at her. We just had some really poor shots when we were shooting the ball right at her feet," Brand said. "As a result we gave her some confidence, and then she made some really nice saves."
The Knights ended the first half with a 6-4 lead. To end the half, junior Ali Steinberg scored one of her two goals off of a Lauren Sbrilli groundball pickup.
It was a role reversal from earlier in the game, as Sbrilli scored her second goal of the day off a Steinberg groundball pickup.
But Rutgers did not have such luck in its loss to Louisville.
The Knights' goal against all their opponents is to stick to their game, and that involves success on both sides of transition, Brand said.
Rutgers succeeded on the defensive end by allowing Louisville's lowest point total of the season.
"They have some strong dodgers, and we were playing good one-on-one defense and not letting them do what they wanted," Brand said.
But even though the Knights did not allow much to the Big East's leading offense, they did not put the ball in the back of the net enough to get the win.
Louisville returned to its scoring ways with a 7-3 second half advantage. Louisville attack Liz Lovejoy capped off the Cardinals' lead with her 41st goal of the season in the final minutes.
The Cardinals (10-3, 3-2) also began the second half by tallying four goals in 11 minutes after trailing, 5-3, heading into the third period.
"We started to let down and we started playing a defensive game rather than the way we had in the beginning of the game, and they took every opportunity that was presented to them," Brand said.
Rutgers sometimes was not even able to start its offensive transition, as it succeeded on only 13 of 19 clear attempts.
It looked like results would be different at the beginning of the game, when Rutgers came out with four uncontested goals.
Louisville did not even score until 12 minutes remained in the first half.
Rutgers received points from four different goal scorers in the opening minutes, a common occurrence for its balanced attack.
But Rutgers will have to put it all together in its final three games of the regular season against Big East opponents if it has aspirations for the NCAA Tournament.