Defense makes up for lack of scoring
When the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team steps onto the field, it carries at least one advantage, regardless of who its opponent happens to be.
The Scarlet Knights (8-2, 1-1) rank first in the nation in scoring defense.
As a team, Rutgers is positioned at No. 18 in the current deBeer Media Poll and has won seven of its last eight games.
Even with average offensive outputs, the Knights have managed a favorable scoring margin this season.
On two separate occasions — Feb. 23 against Fairfield and March 9 against Delaware — the defense allowed only one goal through 45 minutes of action.
The offense scored a total of 12 goals combined in those two games, but the team was able to come away victorious each time.
While the defense is playing at a level no other team has reached this season, this amount of success has not been immediate.
With the bulk of the Knights’ defense consisting of upperclassmen, many of the players have multiple years of experience together.
“I think we’re more all on the same page because we’re all juniors in the same grade,” said defender Chelsea Intrabartola. “We all listen to each other and respect one another and there’s no one person that’s been above anyone else.”
Intrabartola said everyone on the field contributes something different, which has been a reason for the defense’s overall success.
Sophomore defender Hollie DiMuro leads the team in caused turnovers and groundballs. She recorded five groundballs in Saturday’s 9-4 win against Marquette and managed to register her first goal of the season.
The most prominent player on draw controls, sophomore defender Jenny Vlahos, is also third on the team in both caused turnovers and groundballs.
Even though the defense works as a unit, it is backed with the leadership of senior co-captain goalkeeper Lily Kalata.
Kalata is currently the fifth-best goalie in the nation in save percentage and goals allowed this season — a direct correlation to the play of the defense.
“I get the credit for things like that, but it really is the whole defense,” Kalata said. “Just the fact that we work together so well, and as a defense the credit should really go to everyone for that.”
While Kalata boasts a .504 save percentage, the defense has been able to limit its opponents’ possession time and number of shots Kalata faces.
But when the defense does let one by, Kalata is there to make the stop more often than not.
“Usually we try and have a set number of goals that we’re going to allow,” Intrabartola said. “We try and not let it get near that number, so we’re all on the same page with that.”
Rutgers has allowed no more than 10 goals in all but one game — a 12-10 victory March 19 against Princeton — which has given them an important edge through the non-conference portion of the season.