RU?hopes road tale continues at ’Nova
Rutgers women’s lacrosse midfielder Stephanie Anderson described the team’s focus in practice this week with only one word.
“Our word for this week is fire,” the junior said. “We want to come out on fire like we did [last game] and continue that.”
The fire Anderson alluded to is the Scarlet Knights’ quick start at the beginning of Sunday’s 14-5 victory against Connecticut. The Knights scored four straight goals before UConn found the back of the net.
Led by senior midfielder Brittany Davis’ hat trick five minutes into the game, Rutgers secured a 10-1 halftime lead before pulling away for its first Big East victory of the season.
Head coach Laura Brand-Sias would like to see that fast start today against Villanova, which enters the matchup on the heels of a 10-6 defeat Friday against California.
“We need to control the first five minutes, and more than anything we need to get the first draw,” Brand-Sias said. “But really [our focus is] just feeling out the tempo and controlling their athleticism and being able to take care of the physicality of the play they are going to bring to the game.”
Though Villanova (2-7) lost by 4, the Wildcats remained deadlocked with Cal entering the second half.
Rutgers (6-4, 1-1) fared better in its first half against the Huskies. Still, Brand-Sias has no intention of changing the team’s strategy of going after the ball on the first possession and setting the tone early against a team that values its defense.
“Defensively, they are very aggressive,” Brand-Sias said. “They have a couple different looks and have been throwing face guards at people, so we prepared for that. ... They’re going to get after us, so we have to be prepared for a physical game right from the start.”
One thing Brand-Sias believes will not be a factor in against the Wildcats is the fact that Rutgers is playing away from the RU Stadium Complex. The Knights hold a 3-1 away record this season, including a double-overtime win against Fairfield.
Meanwhile, Rutgers has a 3-3 record at home, so Brand-Sias is glad the Knights’ next two games are on the road. Rutgers plays Syracuse on Saturday before returning home April 13 to face Louisville.
“The good thing about this year is that we have been relatively successful on the road,” Brand-Sias said. “We actually really haven’t been as good at home, so having two tough games on the road is something we are concerned about.”
Those two tough games are an important indicator in where the Knights stand once Big East Tournament play arrives.
But Rutgers took care of business against Connecticut, something the Knights’ leading goal-scorer this season knows is important to their future success.
“It was a big win for us,” Anderson said. “Getting that Big East win was big for us, and we want to continue those wins.”