Two-week layoff prepares Knights for UConn
The Rutgers women’s lacrosse team kicks off a five-game homestand today when it hosts Connecticut at the RU Stadium Complex.
The Scarlet Knights (8-2, 0-1) search for their first Big East win this season, after a loss March 22 against No. 7 Notre Dame.
With nearly two weeks since their last game — a 9-4 win March 24 against Marquette, which is not a member of the Big East in women’s lacrosse — the Knights have had ample time to prepare for the Huskies (7-1, 0-1).
“UConn always plays tough against us,” said junior attack Megan Clements. “I think if we just go out there, use what we’ve been practicing the past two weeks and just realize from here on out — it’s go time, you can’t stop, you can’t rest.”
The extra time off has benefited the offensive game plan, where the team prepares to face UConn’s backer zone defensive system.
“It’s something we haven’t come across all season — it’s pretty rare,” said senior attack Annie McGinley. “Our defense has actually been playing every single day in practice for the past week in a backer defense to prepare us, because it’s so different.”
Connecticut’s defense utilizes a two-three zone, with a sixth player in the middle who can slide to the ballhandler.
Head coach Laura Brand-Sias said along with preparing to face UConn’s defensive style, the offense must execute the things it has worked on and stay patient with the ball.
The current stretch of games at home has come at an opportune time for the Knights, as Big East play is just beginning. Rutgers is a perfect 5-0 this season on its home turf.
“It’s huge … especially against conference teams, you want to be home,” Brand-Sias said. “The big part for us is we need to do everything we can and take advantage of it.”
McGinley is a player to watch this weekend for Rutgers. With five goals in the last two games — including a hat-trick against the Irish — she looks to provide more offense during Big East games.
In her final season, McGinley wants to avenge conference defeats from previous years — including last season’s 15-10 loss at Syracuse — the Knights’ opponent on Sunday.
The Orange (5-3, 0-0) open up conference play against Villanova on Friday before traveling this weekend to the RU Stadium Complex.
Ranked fifth in the country in the latest deBeer Media Poll, Syracuse’s Alyssa Murray leads the Orange in scoring.
With a five-goal performance Saturday at Northwestern, she extended her goal total to 24 on the season to go along with 12 assists.