RU?senior breaks record in first season as starter
Less than four minutes remained in the first half of the Rutgers women’s lacrosse game against Cincinnati on Sunday when sophomore midfielder Katrina Martinelli cut through a host of Bearcat defenders.
Standing at the top of the key with the ball, senior attack Danielle Mascera did exactly what she has all season long.
The ball went through the defenders to Martinelli, who found the back of the net to give Mascera the Scarlet Knights’ single-season assist record with 29.
“I saw the pass going into Katrina, and I kind knew it would be the one to break the record,” Mascera said. “All the girls were really excited for me, so I kind of knew [Sunday] was going to be the day.”
Mascera finished with three assists in the Knights’ 13-10 Senior Day victory against the Bearcats, bringing her to 31 on the season. She currently sits 14th in the NCAA in assists.
But for the Verona, N.J., native, it is only fitting she directs the thanks to someone other than herself.
“[My teammates] make it really easy for me in that they just really know how to cut and get open to the ball, “ Mascera said. “The second that they are open, I know I can throw it to the inside.”
Those scorers include senior midfielder Ali Steinberg, junior midfielder Stephanie Anderson and sophomore midfielder Lauren Sbrilli. The trio has each scored more than 25 goals, with Anderson’s 37 shots between the pipes leading the Knights.
While Mascera makes the way she finds fellow teammates on the field look easy, it comes in her first season as a full-time starter for Rutgers.
The senior entered this season with eight assists for her career. Seven of those came last season in four starts for the Knights.
For some, it would have been hard to predict that by the end of the year, Mascera would break the 32-year-old record held by Nancy Isenberg, who registered 28 assists.
Mascera believes otherwise.
“I’m not surprised at all,” Mascera said. “I definitely worked hard the last three years to get where I am, so it definitely wasn’t a surprise to me or my coach either.”
Head coach Laura Brand-Sias could not agree more.
After seeing Mascera earn little time in her first two years on the team, Brand-Sias took note of her hard work since she arrived for the 2009 season.
“She is a player who has really dedicated herself to the program regardless of what her playing circumstance has been,” Brand-Sias said. “She stuck it out and continued to work hard her first couple of years even though she was not getting the time on the field.”
Mascera’s recent success also landed her on the Big East Weekly Honor Roll. She collected five assists this weekend, including two in the Knights’ victory Friday against Louisville.
With trips to Loyola (Md.) and Georgetown to end the regular season, the Knights’ playoff hopes hang in the balance. They currently sit in a three-way tie for fourth with the Hoyas and Notre Dame.
“No matter what, we have to beat Georgetown,” Mascera said. “We have to play our best and rise to the challenge and really compete.”