Knights, Friars fight for fourth, final playoff berth
No one on the Rutgers field hockey team wanted it to come to this, but the Scarlet Knights find themselves in the same unenviable position they experienced in recent years.
The Knights have an uphill battle late in the season to sneak into the fourth and final spot in the Big East Tournament.
Rutgers (3-9, 1-3) has two more Big East games on the schedule, starting tomorrow against Providence at the Bauer Track and Field Complex. Even if it wins both to bring its conference record to .500, the Knights may need other teams to lose in order to get into the tournament.
Rutgers does not worry about factors out of its control, said senior defender Christie Morad. The Knights simply want to come out and win both games and see where it gets them.
“We can’t worry about what other teams are doing or rely on other teams to help us into the Big East Tournament,” Morad said. “We need to help ourselves by winning our final Big East games in order to earn and secure our own spot in the tournament.”
In the Big East standings, Rutgers stands a half game behind Providence and Villanova, which are tied for the fourth seed.
The Knights’ matchup with the Friars (3-10, 1-2) gives them the chance to not only add a Big East victory, but also move ahead of one of its conference foes.
After Louisville beat Rutgers, 4-2, last Saturday, the Cardinals have a chance to help out the Knights on Saturday if they top Villanova.
But Louisville’s performance is a factor out of the Knights’ control. Rutgers is focused on winning its own games, said head coach Liz Tchou.
“I don’t even know if the girls know how many points we’re up or down,” Tchou said. “All I know is that if we win, we’re still in the hunt. If we lose, we’re out of the running.”
The Knights continue to come closer to putting together more conference victories — they held a 2-1 lead over Louisville at halftime. They look to put forth that kind of effort forth for a full 70 minutes against Providence.
Production starts with a problem the Knights had all season: capitalizing on offensive opportunities.
“We’re worried about gaining more opportunities when we come up with the ball,” Tchou said. “We’re doing a really good job stepping up defensively and getting interceptions, but off of those situations we have to create more field situations for ourselves and be able to finish.”
What separates performances like the first half against Louisville from their sub-par moments this season is communication, Tchou said.
“Where we get caught up sometimes is we stop communicating,” Tchou said. “That’s when other teams take advantage of us. It’s almost as simple as that.”
Rutgers and Providence both underwent turmoil this season, with losing streaks of seven and five games, respectively.
But now the fact that each won only three games, including one Big East victory each, does not matter.
All each team can do is hope is get its fourth win of the season and second conference victory.
Whichever team fails to do that likely misses out on the Big East Tournament altogether.