August 18, 2019 | 81° F

Rutgers’ timid play weakens playoff hopes

Photo by Tianfang Yu |

Junior midfielder Lauren Sbrilli makes a pass. Sbrilli led Rutgers with five goals.

In a key Big East matchup against longtime rival Georgetown, the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team fell yesterday, 15-10, at High Point Solutions Stadium.

The Hoyas (6-7, 3-1) controlled the game early on, as the Scarlet Knights (7-7, 1-3) tried to come back multiple times in the contest.

Georgetown jumped out to a 5-0 lead to start the game. The Knights first score did not come until 15:54 in the first half from junior midfielder Lauren Sbrilli.

Rutgers attempted to make a comeback by scoring two goals before halftime, and opened the second half with a goal from sophomore attacker Kim Kolodny.

Georgetown quickly answered with three straight goals to make the score 12-4 with 27:13 left in the second half.

The Knights mounted one more rally and scored four straight goals at the end of the game, but it proved to be not enough.

Sbrilli, who scored a career-high five goals in the contest, said Rutgers entered the game lacking the confidence it needed to earn a win.

“We came out a little intimidated by the team we were facing, and that early struggle we had in the first half was a tough hole to get out of,” Sbrilli said. “We just can’t start games like that.”

The early deficit was a problem for the Knights — the five straight goals let up at the start of the game set a new season high for Rutgers.

Georgetown also had a significant edge in shots, 33-22, ground balls, 20-13, draw controls, 14-13, and turnovers, 16-14. The Hoyas controlled the game for the entire 60 minutes.

Attackers Meghan Farrell and Reilly Woodman, along with midfielder Courtney Caputo, fueled Georgetown with hat tricks.

Sbrilli led the Knights with five goals, while senior attacker Megan Clements and sophomore attacker Kim Kolodny each scored twice.

Head coach Laura Brand-Sias was especially alarmed at the Knights’ lack of competitiveness in the game.

“Our energy and focus was really flat, and Georgetown came out with the intensity knowing the importance of this game that we failed to match,” Brand-Sias said. “We tend to expect the outcomes of a game before we step on the field depending on who we are paying, and it’s led to some mental lapses in the game.”

One area where Rutgers had some unexpected trouble in the game was clearing the ball from its own defensive zone. The Knights were 7-15 in clear attempts, its lowest percentage on the season.

Senior defender Hollie DiMuro, who tied her career-high with four caused turnovers, said the Knights’ poor clearances in the games came from a number of factors.

“Our minds weren’t there, and we weren’t ready to play as a team,” DiMuro said. “The attack line was not coming down to help us out on clearances, and [Georgetown] were just scoring the ball too much on us.”

The Hoyas are known for their aggressiveness in their offensive zone without the ball. They implemented double-teams on the opposing defender with the ball, which led to a number of turnovers for Rutgers in the game.

Brand-Sias attributed this offensive strategy to the Knights’ struggles on both offense and defense.

“They have a strong ride that we prepared for, but we didn’t do a good job of handling the pressure they put on us, especially in the beginning of the game,” Brand-Sias said. “We didn’t communicate and failed to slide to the ball, which gave them some easy opportunities to score.”

Rutgers currently sits two games behind the qualifying position for the Big East Tournament. With three games left, the Knights know they must play better than yesterday if they wish to keep their postseason hopes alive.

“We have opportunities ahead of us and our road is not easy, but we have to win one game at a time,” Brand-Sias said.

For updates on the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

Conor Nordland

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