RU hosts Manhattan in opener
The start of a new season brings uncertainty for any collegiate program. Luckily for the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team, a noticeable amount of stability remains.
The Scarlet Knights open their season Saturday when they host Manhattan.
The Knights finished last season at 9-7, but it returns many experienced components that have the ability to build on that result.
The Knights’ defense returns its core group and should begin to develop chemistry immediately.
Redshirt sophomore Hollie DiMuro — who started all 16 games last season and led the team with 30 groundballs, including a career-high of three against No. 6 Notre Dame — should lead the unit.
Junior Chelsea Intrabartola will look to have a prominent role on the Knights’ defense after starting the final seven games last season. She caused her first turnover and scooped her first groundball March 30 against Notre Dame.
Senior co-captain goalkeeper Lily Kalata remains behind the defense. Kalata started every game in net for Rutgers last season en route to being named to the IWLCA All-Mid-Atlantic Second Team.
She ranked second in the Big East in goals-against average and was fifth in save percentage.
Rutgers will also look to avoid a two-game losing steak to begin the year like the one it encountered last season.
Temple and Cornell, which both finished above .500, handed the Knights early defeats. Both losses to begin last year came at home, where Rutgers will play the majority of this season. The team hosts 10 games, along with seven away from campus.
The season begins nearly two weeks earlier than average, as the Knights have not played their first game before Feb. 20 in each of the past three seasons.
“It’s earlier than we’re used to, so I’m very anxious to see how the team steps out on the field for the first time competitively, and really gels and meshes and uses everything we’ve been working so hard on the past few weeks,” said head coach Laura Brand-Sias.
Manhattan finished last season with only four wins and a road record of 1-8.
But the Knights remain focused, unwilling to look past their immediate opponent.
“As a team, we really take it one game at a time,” said senior co-captain Stephanie Anderson. “Right now our focus is Manhattan.”
The team must work together to give its best effort coming out of a short preseason, Anderson said.
Anderson enters her first game as co-captain following a breakout 2012 season in which she led the team with 41 goals.
The Knights are not short of talent on the offensive side. Kalata expects to see good offensive movement, with everyone working as a cohesive unit.