Knights gear for Hawks without offensive threat
The Rutgers women’s lacrosse team travels to Monmouth on Saturday attempting to string together consecutive wins for the first time this season.
The Scarlet Knights (2-1) lost their only game on the road to Temple on Feb. 20, after they failed to hold onto a two-goal lead.
The Owls scored four unanswered goals en route to a second-half comeback, one of the Knights’ only missteps on defense this season.
Rutgers has allowed an average of 5.33 goals per game through three contests, good for eighth-best in the nation.
In the win against Fairfield last Saturday, the Knights held the Stags to three goals and only one through the first 50-plus minutes of play.
While the Knights only scored five goals in the game, their plan proved to be enough to get the victory.
Rutgers may have to make defense its first priority going forward, after losing senior co-captain midfielder Stephanie Anderson to a knee injury.
In two games this season, Anderson tallied seven goals and along with junior midfielder Katrina Martinelli, provided most of the Knights’ offense.
“Steph was a big part of our team, but while she’s out we definitely need to have people stepping up and being leaders on the field and off the field,” Martinelli said, “Because when she’s not in, it makes a big impact.”
In the season opener against Manhattan, Anderson tied a single game career-best mark with five goals scored.
With Anderson possibly sidelined for the rest of the non-conference schedule, Martinelli becomes the main target on offense.
She scored on a free position attempt against Fairfield with less than five seconds remaining in the first period to give the Knights a two-goal lead at the half.
But head coach Laura Brand-Sias believes the rest of the Knights’ offense will come together with enough experience.
“I think that we’re a very well-rounded offense,” she said. “We have a lot of different weapons so it’s a matter of getting enough practice time to really develop the chemistry between all the talent that we have.”
Rutgers returns five players on defense from last season and the Knights have benefitted by developing early chemistry.
“They all kind of know what the other one is going to be doing,” Brand-Sias said. “They work off of each other and communicate really well.”
Much of the Knights’ ability to stall the Stags’ scoring came from smart play in their offensive zone.
Junior defender Chelsea Intrabartola said the defense benefits from the Knights being careful with the ball and not committing a lot of turnovers.
“It’s a lot harder when the offense and defense are sort of playing separately from each other,” Intrabartola said. “When we’re all having a good game, it’s a lot easier for us to do our job on defense.”
Rutgers possessed the ball for long periods of time, controlling the tempo of the game and holding back on better scoring opportunities.
Monmouth enters the game looking for its first victory of the season. The Hawks (0-3) lost to Navy Sunday by a score of 16-4.
For the Knights, it may be difficult to resist taking more shots against a stumbling Hawks squad.
But Brand-Sias is not concerned with what the opponent brings to the match and will stick to the her game plan.
Monmouth has allowed no fewer than 14 goals in each of its first three games and has yet to eclipse seven goals on offense.
The Hawks even surrendered 14 goals to Fairfield in its season opener.
“Shot placement is a big thing for us,” Martinelli said. “We really need to focus on placing the ball and making smart decisions on when to shoot and where to shoot.”