RU returns home for No. 20 Penn
The Rutgers women’s lacrosse team has the benefit of playing at home today for its first contest against a nationally ranked opponent.
The Scarlet Knights host No. 20 Penn, and hold a 2-0 record this season at the RU Stadium Complex.
The Knights (3-1) enter with a two-game winning streak after defeating rival Monmouth on Saturday, 11-8.
Although they sport a winning record in the early goings, it has not come easily. Three of their first four games have ended with a difference of three goals or less.
“It’s certainly going to be the trend of things going down the line,” said head coach Laura Brand-Sias of the close games. “So we need to be learning from our mistakes and recognizing why these games are close. I think they’ve been close because we’ve allowed them to get that way.”
Through the first four games, Rutgers has managed a stable defense.
The eight goals Monmouth scored tie for the most the team has allowed.
In their previous game Feb. 23, the Knights held Fairfield to three goals and only one in the first 54 minutes of regulation.
But offensively, Rutgers has been sporadic.
Junior midfielder Amanda Trendell is currently the Knights’ best scoring option after putting together a career-best five-point game against the Hawks.
But as far as the whole team, the offensive production has varied by game and even by period.
“In the second half [against Monmouth], we actually had possession of the ball more, so we just need to play smart and run through our plays and work as a unit,” Trendell said. “We’re looking for the perfect opportunity, instead of just an OK opportunity.”
Junior attack Megan Clements scored four goals in the second half Saturday and was a major difference for the Knights down the stretch.
She put together a natural hat trick to break the game open after a 5-5 tie early in the period.
Clements believes the offense will become more potent as a whole with more games under its belt.
“We have so many strong attack players who can score and do everything, so it’s good to have so many different options,” she said. “Everyone who’s been scoring lately can keep growing, especially when we get into games when teams will be tougher.”
The Quakers (0-2) entered the preseason polls ranked in the top 15, but two losses have forced them to fall in the rankings.
They fell to No. 3 North Carolina at home Saturday, 11-5, and previously dropped their season opener to Drexel, 11-8.
The trip to Piscataway will be the Quakers’ first game on the road, an additional burden they will have to overcome to maintain a national ranking.
The Quakers have been thin with offense, with midfielder Maddie Poplawski pacing the team with four points.
Most of their scoring has occurred in the second half, where they totaled eight of their 13 goals in the first two games.
Brand-Sias believes the Knights will be successful if they stick to the same mentality they have carried through their past two victories.
“We just need to stick with our game plan — which is controlling the tempo and the ball, and making sure that we’re not making careless mistakes and giving up unnecessary balls,” she said.