Rutgers seizes first conference win of year
The Rutgers women’s lacrosse team defeated Villanova, 9-6, on Saturday for its first conference win of the season at the RU Turf Field.
The Scarlet Knights (9-4, 1-3) never trailed in the game and improved to 21-0 all-time against the Wildcats (5-7, 0-4).
Three players scored two goals for the Knights, and six different players secured at least one point.
“It wasn’t pretty at the end, so we needed to put the ball in the back of the net to solidify the win,” said head coach Laura Brand-Sias. “We could’ve been much more in control had we executed our game plan earlier in the game.”
It was senior attack Annie McGinley who scored the final goal for Rutgers late in the second half, when she attacked the cage alone for an unassisted score to make it a 9-5 game.
The four-goal advantage marked the second-largest lead in the game for the Knights, senior goalkeeper Lily Kalata made possible late.
The co-captain stopped a pair of free position shots by the Wildcats late in the second period. She denied attack Jackie Froccaro, who took the attempt after scoring the previous two goals for Villanova.
Attack Maria Bowman was unable to capitalize on her own free position shot. Kalata was not sure where the ball landed, but she put her body in position to make the save.
“If [Kalata] wasn’t on her game today, I don’t know how the game would have gone,” Brand-Sias said. “Her play was a key part to us winning today.”
Brand-Sias said the defense — while not playing as disciplined as it normally does — was able to come up big in some key moments.
Despite moving away from its game plan, the defense only allowed six goals against a Villanova offense used to putting up double-digits in scoring.
Unlike the Wildcats, Rutgers was able to capitalize on most of its free position attempts. The team went four-for-seven in the game on the 8-meter shot and was able to extend its lead coming out of halftime because of those conversions.
Freshman attack Halley Barnes went top shelf on goalie Amanda Hirschfeld for her second goal of the game after junior midfielder Katrina Martinelli began the period with her second free position score.
“We practice [free position shots] almost every day, so I’m used to being put on the line,” Martinelli said.
The Knights took their largest lead of the game, 7-2, but Villanova followed with two goals to bring the lead to within three once again.
Junior attack Megan Clements halted the Wildcats’ momentum with a goal after being denied several times on high-percentage shots driving to the net. She tallied an assist for a two-point game before leaving the game after receiving her second yellow card late in the second period.
Offensively, the Knights controlled the tempo early on. The game began with high intensity play — as both teams were winless in Big East action.
Junior midfielder Amanda Trendell scored with less than two minutes remaining in the first period. She entered the game following a two-goal performance April 7 against Syracuse.
Barnes began the day’s scoring on the opening possession of the game. She took four shots in the first half and totaled seven in the outing.
Another freshman attack gave Rutgers a 2-1 lead as Kim Kolodny notched her fifth goal of the season to answer a goal by the Wildcats’ leading scorer, attack Jessica Mucci.
The Knights capitalized on early turnovers caused by the defense.
Junior defender Hollie DiMuro forced her 20th turnover of the season early in the first period, while junior defender Chelsea Intrabartola followed up with a turnover that led to a McGinley score the other way.
“We know that when we send doubles and put pressure on them, we can force the turnovers rather than waiting back and letting them do what they want,” Intrabartola said. “It’s better for us when we make them react to what we’re doing.”