January 22, 2019 | ° F

Final-minute goal sinks Rutgers

Photo by Alex Van Driesen |

Sophomore midfielder Lauren Sbrilli runs downfield Saturday in the Knights’ loss to Cornell. Sbrilli scored two goals.

With less than four minutes remaining and the score tied at 7, junior midfielder Stephanie Anderson forced a timely turnover that positioned the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team well against visiting Cornell.

But the Scarlet Knights failed in transition, and after back-and-forth play, the pressure fell on the defensive unit to halt a final Cornell attack.

The squad could not blank the Big Red in the closing minute as Cornell’s Olivia Knotts fired a goal past junior goalkeeper Lily Kalata with 52 seconds remaining, the final one in an 8-7 Rutgers loss.

“We can’t have our defense hold a team for 15 minutes at the end of the game,” said head coach Laura Brand-Sias. “It stinks that the focus is going to be on the defense letting that last goal in because I don’t think it should be. I think the defense did a great job.”

The defense limited the Big Red (1-0) to 17 shot attempts, and Kalata saved eight.

Although all eyes tuned in on the Knights (0-2) defense in the closing minutes, the miscues on the offensive end ultimately plagued the Knights.

The opportunities arose, Brand-Sias said, but the Knights did not convert.

Failing to connect on three free-position shots in the second half, the Knights felt the effects of their mistakes.

“We played a very stagnant offense and that’s not how we play,” the 10th-year head coach said. “We got caught up in their pressure and started standing around.”

Cornell, on the other hand, capitalized on its opportunities.

Finishing seven of 17 shot attempts and one of two free-position shots, the Big Red cashed in.

Knotts led all scorers with three goals, and the senior’s game-winner capped her first hat trick of the season.

A Knights midfielder led the scoring for the second consecutive game. Sophomore Lauren Sbrilli filled the void offensively for the Knights, tallying two of Rutgers’ seven scores.

Ali Steinberg notched three scores in the season-opening loss to Temple, but Cornell held the senior midfielder in check.

The co-captain tied the game at 2, but she could not find the offensive prowess she displayed against the Owls.

Despite her squad’s second straight loss, Brand-Sias knows the team owns its destiny.

“The one thing we’ve done consistently is that the game has been in our control,” she said. “We controlled whether or not we won those last two games.”

With the game in their hands for the second-straight contest, the Knights came up short.

In a week preparing for playing with a lead and building momentum, the team did the opposite, as a back-and-forth affair cut the Knights’ game plan.

Neither team played with more than a one-goal lead in a game that featured seven ties.

Senior midfielder Brittany Davis gave the Knights the lead with 17:05 to play, but Cornell’s Lindsay Toppe erased the lead on the next play.

While Rutgers failed to score for the rest of the game, its defense limited the Big Red attack for as long as it could.

The team hopes to continue to control its games, but that will be no easy task Wednesday against No. 8 Princeton.

By Patrick Lanni

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