Knights overcome rain for second win
The Rutgers women’s lacrosse team earned its second home victory of the season Saturday by defeating Fairfield, 5-3.
The Scarlet Knights delivered the win despite a rainy, low-scoring match.
With the victory, Rutgers (2-1) avenged its double-overtime loss last season to the Stags.
“Last year they got up on us, and we had to crawl our way back into the game,” said head coach Laura Brand-Sias. “It felt good [today] to be in control for the entire 60 minutes.”
The Stags garnered some offense in the final six minutes when midfielder Melanie Raso scored her sixth goal of the season.
Fairfield made it as close as a two-goal game after midfielder Courtney Chmil converted a free position shot with under two minutes left.
But Rutgers gained possession off the ensuing draw and were able to run out the clock.
Rutgers took a 5-1 lead when freshman attack Hally Barnes scored her second goal of the game on a free position shot with less than seven minutes remaining.
Rutgers was without senior midfielder Stephanie Anderson, who was sidelined for the game with an injury, so the Knights were able to find another offensive threat in Barnes, who scored two goals in the second period.
Barnes opened the half with an unassisted score less than two minutes in, which gave the Knights a 4-1 lead.
“She has the benefit this year of us needing some people to step up, and she definitely has the ability to do it,” Brand-Sias said. “I expect big things from her, and I expect her to get better and better with every game.”
The plan entering the game was to control the tempo, Brand-Sias said. The team focused on having solid possessions by staying patient in the offensive zone.
As a result, Rutgers put a higher percentage of shots on net than in its last game Feb. 20 against Temple, when the Knights fell, 8-7.
Rutgers opened the second half by possessing the ball almost exclusively for ten minutes.
The Knights then found another scoring chance when freshman midfielder Chrissy Schreiber rang a shot off the post.
Junior midfielder Amanda Trendell forced a quick turnover to give the Knights possession following the goal.
She capitalized on a free position shot with five seconds left in the period to give the Knights a 3-1 lead and momentum entering halftime.
“It’s always good going into halftime up and on a positive note,” said junior midfielder Katrina Martinelli. “The most important thing is helping your teammates up and getting them excited to go into the next half of play.”
Martinelli increased her point total to 13 through the first three games and now leads the Knights in scoring, after she tallied only 11 points in 12 games last season.
“[Martinelli’s] always had it in her. I think she’s just kind of come out of her shell this season,” Brand-Sias said. “She’s just a good player — has good composure — so we’re not surprised that she’s gotten it done.”
Senior goalie Lily Kalata made six saves, including four in the second half.
The low-scoring outcome can be attributed to constant rain and low temperatures at game-time.
Kalata said goalies played a big role in the game on both sides, especially when players’ strings were loose from the rain and shots landed in unpredictable areas.
“Just staying poised and being patient with your defense,” Kalata said of the challenges of playing in wet conditions. “Never faltering, even when the pressure gets on or they’re changing up their game — we just have to stay cool.”
The Knights’ defense forced Fairfield into short possessions as the Stags turned the ball over 11 times in the game.
Kalata was able to weather the storm late when the Stags applied more pressure in an attempt to catch the Knights.