Knights win Senior Day game in tourney push
Senior attack Danielle Mascera made it very clear Friday about what the goal for the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team was yesterday in its game against Cincinnati.
“We have to kill them,” Mascera said. “We need to have a big game that we are winning by 10 so we can move up in the rankings.”
A late four-goal scoring run from Cincinnati prevented winning by that margin, but the Scarlet Knights pulled out a victory, defeating the Bearcats, 13-10, on Senior Day.
Head coach Laura Brand-Sias was satisfied with the team’s performance, as the victory gave the Knights their fourth in their past five games and second of the weekend. Rutgers defeated Louisville on Friday, 16-11.
“I’m never going to be upset that we won,” Brand-Sias said. “We had some nice things happen today, so I’m happy that we were able to get that today,”
Cincinnati’s (3-9, 0-5) Laura Simanski put the ball between the pipes on a free position strike with less than two minutes left to bring the Bearcats within three.
But Rutgers’ (9-5, 4-2) early scoring in the second period gave the Knights enough cushion for a victory.
Lauren Sbrilli deserves some of the credit. The sophomore midfielder registered a hat trick, including two goals in the second half.
“My shots finally started falling in,” Sbrilli said.
The Knights controlled the first half despite Stephanie Anderson’s absence from the field. While the junior midfielder scored twice in the second half, she remained on the sideline for much of the first because of illness.
Rutgers still found offense in the first half despite its leading scorer’s condition. Six different players found the back of the net.
Brand-Sias was satisfied with the goal distribution
“That’s always our goal as an offense, “ Brand-Sias said. “If you shut one person down, another one is going to step up and get something done. We don’t want to be a easy team to defend.”
Mascera fueled the goal distribution, breaking Rutgers’ all-time single-season assist record on a pass to sophomore midfielder Katrina Martinelli with 16:51 left in the first half. Mascera’s 29th moved her past Nancy Isenberg, who held the mark for 32 years.
The record was the highlight of the day for Rutgers, which honored six of its seniors before the game.
“[My teammates] were all really happy for me,” Mascera said. “It couldn’t have been on a better day or a better time.”
The win also tied the Knights for fourth place in the conference with Georgetown and Notre Dame. The Big East Tournament features the top-four finishers, so one of the three schools will be left out.
Rutgers plays Loyola (Md.) on Friday before its face-off against the Hoyas. The Knights’ focus remains with the first-place Greyhounds and improving from yesterday’s victory.
“The good thing for us going forward is that we rise to the occasion when we play teams that we know are good competition,” Brand-Sias said. “Loyola is a really great team, so I know the team is going to bring a good game.”