Experienced Knights seek final run
The Rutgers women’s lacrosse team begins its season Saturday when it hosts Manhattan.
The upcoming year features veteran players taking on new roles, with senior midfielder Stephanie Anderson and senior goalieLily Kalata named as captains.
Anderson was one of the Scarlet Knights’ top performers last season, leading the team with 41 goals to go along with five assists.
The midfielder played even stronger in conference matchups, earning 27 points in Big East play.
“I’ve put a lot of time in this fall, and I have a great group of girls going into this season with me, so I’m excited for the things we’re going to be able to accomplish this year,” Anderson said.
Head coach Laura Brand-Sias named the two captains before the team’s fall competition with a team vote.
“I’ll try to do my best to lead by example and show them that I’m willing to put in that extra effort for my teammates, and I hope they’re willing to do so, too,” Anderson said.
In goal, Kalata hopes to build on her efforts from last season. Starting all 16 games last year, she ranked second in the Big East with a 9.74 goals-against average. She was fifth in save percentage at .446.
Like Anderson, Kalata picked it up in Big East play, finishing first in the league in saves and second in save percentage.
“I’m kind of stern, but that’s not the kind of leader I like to follow,” Kalata said. “There are different kinds of leadership. I think I’m trying to bring a more friendly [approach], kind of a shoulder they can lean on.”
Kalata stressed team play and the importance of a defense that has stayed intact from last year.
Brand-Sias enters her 11th season as head coach and looks to earn her 100th career victory this season.
During the team’s fall scrimmages, Rutgers faced Maryland, a team that made it to last season’s NCAA Final Four.
The Knights also took on USC, Penn State and James Madison to prepare for the spring.
“I think the girls really got up for good competition [during the preseason], and it shows that we really have the potential and the ability to play at an elite level,” Brand-Sias said.
Rutgers was selected to finish fifth in its conference during the preseason, with Anderson earning preseason All-Big East Team honors.
The Knights welcome eight freshmen to the team, including attack Halley Barnes from Garnet Valley (Pa.) High School.
Barnes finished her high school career with 365 points, putting her in the top 25 in the nation.
She scored 111 goals in 2012, the seventh most in the country. She was named the No. 5 attacker in the nation, according to ESPN.
“I think she should have a nice freshman year,” Brand-Sias said. “I think that with time her confidence is going to grow, and [so will] her ability to read defenses at this level.”
The Knights finished last season with a 9-7 record, with five home wins.
They only played two games at Yurcak Field, but won them against conference foes Louisville and Cincinnati.
Rutgers will play five games at Yurcak Field this season, all in April against Big East schools.
The team then travels to Louisville and Cincinnati to round out the regular season.