December 14, 2018 | ° F

Knights face second straight ranked foe

The Rutgers women’s lacrosse team continues to embrace the underdog role as it prepares for Saturday’s matchup against No. 7 Pennsylvania.

Flying under the radar with an 0-2 record, the Scarlet Knights patched together their first complete game one week ago, handing No. 8 Princeton its first loss of the season.

Now, with their sights set on the Quakers (1-1), the Knights (1-2) want to play spoiler once more.

But the Knights are not satisfied with the upset role. They want to prove they are a force.

“Our slogan the last week or so has been ‘up,’” said senior defender Rebecca Alley. “We just want to keep moving up and keep winning.”

With a chance to improve to .500, the matchup at Philadelphia’s historic Franklin Field is not only important in the standings, but also as assurance in the team’s ability to compete against elite programs.

Rutgers faces five more teams featured in the IWLCA Coaches Poll, starting this weekend against the Quakers.

“Our whole schedule is difficult,” said head coach Laura Brand-Sias. “[But] whether someone has a number next to their name or not isn’t really my concern.”

What the 10th-year head coach cares about is her team playing with heart and passion.

“There was a notable difference between the Princeton game and our first two games,” Brand-Sias said. “[It was] the energy on the field and the sidelines. The girls were loose and having fun.”

The co-captain Alley agreed.

“We need to bring the energy again,” the all-region defender said. “The reason we were able to beat Princeton was everyone showed up and had a lot of energy and heart. We wanted to win.”

While the Knights plan to bring the same emotion, the Quakers want to slow things down.

Sporting a calculated offense, Penn knows when to strike.

“They’re a patient and smart team,” Alley said. “[For us] it starts on defense, controlling the game and ball.”

The Knights were able to control the game at Princeton.

Winning seven more draw controls than their Ivy League opponent, Brand-Sias’ squad held the advantage through possessions. It hopes to do the same against Penn.

Alley led the game in draw controls and hopes to accomplish the feat again at Franklin Field. But her first task is to limit the Quaker attack.

“We have to play good team defense and have quick slides,” she said.

On top of defending, Alley must also fulfill her leadership duties.

“I have to lead vocally, lead by example and keep the energy level up throughout the game, no matter what happens,” she said.

Whether the team is up by a wide margin, neck-and-neck with its opponent or trailing by six goals, the game is still within reach. The Knights experienced all three scenarios in their first three games.

But the Knights think they have moved past the late-game struggles that plagued them in their first two matchups.

With the Princeton win boosting confidence and showing the Knights can find themselves on the winning end of late-contest settings, they hope to prove it once more with a victory at Penn.

By Patrick Lanni

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