Late Loyola scoring run ends Rutgers’ upset bid
Rutgers head women’s lacrosse coach Laura Brand-Sias preached all season that the Scarlet Knights needed to play a full 60 minutes to be successful.
After a fast start, the Knights could not keep up with No. 14 Loyola (Md.), losing, 15-11, on Saturday, one game before their season finale with Georgetown.
“I think we had a nice game, but there was just that chunk of time in the second half where we didn’t take control of things,” Brand-Sias said. “That allowed Loyola the run the clock out and made it harder for us to stop them at that point.”
The result came after the Knights (9-6, 4-3) took their final lead of the game, 10-9, on a strike from junior midfielder Stephanie Anderson. With a one-goal deficit, the Greyhounds responded with four straight goals.
Two of those came from Marlee Paton, who found the back of the net five times in the game. Rutgers could not stop the sophomore midfielder during the second half, as she scored on a free position goal with 15 seconds remaining to seal the victory for Loyola (9-5, 5-0).
The second half did not mirror the first half for the Knights, who kept up with the Greyhounds throughout the first period.
It began with a four-goal stretch to open up the game, including two from sophomore midfielder Lauren Sbrilli. Sbrilli finished the game with her sixth hat trick of the season.
Loyola responded with three straight goals of its own as both teams went back and forth throughout the first half.
Ali Steinberg aided the Knights’ responses. The senior midfielder scored three times, including a free position shot with 12:47 in the first half to eclipse 100 points on her career.
Brand-Sias was pleased to see the Knights get off to a fast start despite the loss.
“I’m really happy about it,” Brand-Sias said. “We need to be playing like that to win this last game, so it was good see that.”
Brand-Sias alluded to the Knights’ matchup Saturday against Georgetown. The Hoyas lost to Notre Dame on Saturday, 7-6, in double overtime.
The defeat sets up a win-or-go-home situation with Rutgers. The teams are tied for fourth place in the Big East standings, with Saturday’s winner taking the final spot in the Big East Tournament.
Georgetown (8-6, 4-3) serves as Rutgers’ second straight ranked opponent, as the Hoyas currently hold a No. 15 ranking.
While the team had opportunities to pull off the upset, Brand-Sias believes the added pressure of the season finale will help the Knights in securing a spot in the tournament.
“This is why you play,” Brand-Sias said. “If you don’t get fired up for this, there is something wrong with you. This is what defines being a Division I athlete, being put in these situations where the outcome controls your season.”