Knights hope to set tone for season in opener
The Rutgers women’s lacrosse team wants to prove today in its 3 p.m. season opener against Temple that it can be dominant.
“Our word for this game is ‘dominate,’” said senior attack Lindsey Watts. “We really just want to go out there, beat [Temple], dominate and execute everything we’ve worked on in practice.”
Watts proved to be the difference in last season’s game against the Owls, notching three goals in the Scarlet Knights’ 11-10 win. The Hillsborough High School product wants to be equally successful at the RU Turf Field.
The matchup features an athletic Temple squad that bested Oregon, 14-12, in its season debut. Sophomore attack Jaymie Tabor scored six goals for the Owls and poses the biggest threat to the Knights defense.
But senior defender and co-captain Rebecca Alley says the physicality of Tabor’s attack is not something to get hung up on.
“We’re ready to play against a physical team,” she said. “We just need to be physical from the start.”
The Knights enter their opener as imposing as the Owls.
The squad features preseason All-Big East midfielder Ali Steinberg and a defense that ranked 15th nationally in scoring defense a season ago.
Matching up against the Owls should not be a stretch for head coach Laura Brand-Sias’ team.
“[Temple] has good size, they’re athletic, they dodge very well, but so do we,” Brand-Sias said. “It’s going to be a great battle.”
The Knights hold recent success against the Owls, winning five of the last seven games. But it is Temple that boasts a 16-6 overall record against Rutgers. The Knights look to extend their current three-game winning streak in the series.
They also want to improve on last season’s fifth-place Big East finish. A 3-5 conference record left the team one spot short of qualifying for the Big East’s postseason tournament.
With sights set on the Big East Tournament this season, Brand-Sias says the team must concentrate on the task at hand.
“We need to focus on one game at time,” the 10-year head coach said. “I don’t want to think too broad term, but we need to just chip away at every piece of our schedule.”
With a number of injury road bumps last season, Brand-Sias was forced to substitute her underclassmen into bigger roles. Experiencing the bulk of the conference schedule, Brand-Sias’ younger players gained the playing time needed to take on bigger tasks, she said.
“The younger players got that experience,” Brand-Sias said. “Now we have the injured kids back, so overall we’re relatively deep.”
With the team’s blend of veteran leaders and youthful talent, it is hopeful to start off strong against Temple.
The Knights want to stay focused on executing their plays and taking advantage of their defensive presence while playing with intensity. And they want a dominant performance against Temple to set the tone for their season.
“We have to come in focused and pumped up,” Watts said. “We have to take everything we’ve been learning all week, work together, communicate and do everything we’ve been doing in practice in the game.”