Overtime goal brings momentum to midfielder
To earn its first win of the season Wednesday, the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team needed to hold Princeton’s attack long enough in the sudden victory period for the offense to strike.
The defense held firm as sophomore midfielder Lauren Sbrilli netted the game-winner with 4:40 remaining in the second overtime period to cap the Scarlet Knights’ 11-10 upset win against the No. 8 Tigers.
But the play that put the Knights (1-2) past the Tigers (1-1) remains a bit of a blur for Sbrilli.
“There was a lot of confusion,” she said. “We lost the ball and it was on the ground. All of a sudden, it ended up in the back of the cage.”
Notching her third goal of the game, Sbrilli said the shot that earned her team’s first win ranks among the best in her career.
“It’s very high on my list,” she said. “I’ve never had that feeling of happiness [after] scoring a game-winner and beating a team like Princeton. It was great.”
Sbrilli’s clinching goal was the seventh scored by a midfielder on the day, as senior co-captain Ali Steinberg (three) and redshirt senior Brittany Davis (one) added the others for the unit.
But it was not only an offensive performance that gave the Knights the edge.
Junior goalkeeper Lily Kalata kept the Tigers in check by tallying 11 saves.
Winning 16 of the game’s 25 draw controls, Rutgers built its upset bid in the trenches.
“We had confidence,” Sbrilli said. “We won all the draw-controls and all the 50-50s. We didn’t let anything get in our way.”
With players contributing across the board, head coach Laura Brand-Sias said the win was a team effort.
“We had a game plan, and the girls did a great job of executing it,” she said. “We have known all along what we were capable of. It was just a matter of putting it all together. It was a great example of what we are capable of accomplishing.”
Handing its in-state rival its first loss of the year, the victory was a great win for the program, Sbrilli said.
“We sent a message to other teams that we’re not a team that they can look over,” the Martinsville, N.J., native said. “We’re always going to fight and bring our A-game.”
With their third straight game decided by one point, the Knights are familiar to close situations late in games.
To continue to wind up on the winning end, Sbrilli said the team must keep moving forward.
“We need to continue to work everyday in practice,” the Bridgewater-Raritan High School product said. “We need to push each other, call people out and work on our weaknesses.”
Warranting another total team performance Saturday at Pennsylvania, Sbrilli and the Knights are ready to take on their second straight Ivy League opponent.
Rutgers knows its energy on the field must match its will to win.