Knights rebound with convincing victory at home
With less than a 48-hour turnaround, Rutgers head women’s lacrosse coach Laura Brand-Sias was proud of the way the team handled adversity entering yesterday’s game against Connecticut.
“The one thing I’m happy about is that they all hurt right now,” Brand Sias said Friday. “They are taking this to heart. … We have to take the positives out of it and bring it into Sunday.”
Those positives were evident against UConn, as the Scarlet Knights defeated the Huskies, 14-5, earning their first Big East victory of the season after losing Friday to No. 6 Notre Dame.
The matchup was of a different breed yesterday, when the Knights (6-4) outplayed Connecticut. While the Huskies’ (6-4) three defeats were all against top-20 ranked teams, Rutgers played with ease throughout the matchup.
Junior midfielder Stephanie Anderson, who notched five goals on the day, looked comfortable. Two of her goals came in the second half, with the fifth occurring on a bounce-up shot that found the back of the net with 57 seconds left.
“My teammates were looking for me again today,” Anderson said. “I was just the lucky one that was getting the balls in the net.”
The goals Rutgers converted in the second half were luxuries. The team went right to work in the first half, scoring four straight goals to open up the period. Senior middle Brittany Davis, who captured a hat trick in the first five minutes of the first half, including a spin-move strike on her second goal, ignited the fast start.
“It’s awesome,” Davis said. “I don’t think I’ve ever done that here at Rutgers, so it was a really awesome to be able to finish.”
The Knights also took advantage of their free-possession attempts in the first period, as Rutgers scored four off of Connecticut fouls. Two of Davis’ goals came off of free-possession attempts.
With a 10-1 halftime lead, defense was noticeable all over the field, as the Knights limited UConn’s M.E Lapham to only one goal in the first half. She entered the RU Turf Field with 30 goals through nine contests.
“To just come out here and win, and win by this much really just helps us move on and get better,” Davis said.
While yesterday’s win was practically in the books in the first half, Friday’s contest proved to be one contest filled with drama. The Knights fought back from a 10-6 deficit to force overtime on freshman midfielder Kristin Kocher’s strike with 15 seconds left in regulation.
Rutgers then took its first lead against the Fighting Irish since it held a 3-2 advantage with 10:15 left in the first half. Senior attack Danielle Mascera found Davis to take a 12-11 lead after the first overtime period. Mascera’s assist was her fifth of the game, a career high.
But the Knights could not hold on, as Notre Dame (8-0) fought back to score two goals in a 30-second span. The strike by the Irish’s Margaret Smith with 22 seconds remaining resulted in Notre Dame’s eighth win of the season.
Still, Rutgers responded to its overtime defeat with a solid performance against the Huskies, something Brand-Sias was glad to see. She hopes it helps Rutgers moving forward with its schedule.
“If we hit on all cylinders and we can put together two halves like the first half, we are going to be hard to stop,” Brand-Sias said. “It’s a mental toughness type of thing to be able to consistently have that mindset for 60 minutes.”