Rutgers completes season on high note, earning berth in Big Ten tournament
Going into the 2014 season, the Rutgers field hockey team’s main goal was to compete in its inaugural season among the best in the Big Ten.
Third-year head coach Meredith Long delivered on this goal, coaching her team up to the No. 7 seed of the tournament.
Overall, the Scarlet Knights finished the season 9-10.
The season all came down to the second-to-last game when they took on Indiana with a Big Ten tournament spot on the line. For both teams, it was a must-win.
Arguably the Knights’ best player and Second Team All-Big Ten defender Sofia Walia clinched a spot for Rutgers with a goal in the closing minutes.
But the host of the tournament, Michigan, ultimately ended Rutgers’ season in the first round.
Although the Knights finished under .500, it was not quite indicative of the year Rutgers had.
They lost four of those games, each by one goal, with two of them coming in overtime.
Rutgers overcame two losing streaks and never lost faith in its ability to play as an effective team. The Knights had lost five straight games going into their Oct. 5 game against New Hampshire.
The team knew it needed a win to carry momentum going into the next weekend when it would face Ohio State. Rutgers ended up winning both games to put itself in a position to make the Big Ten Tournament.
Soon after, the Knights went on another losing streak of three games, but when push came to shove, they won their next three and made the postseason.
On the season, Rutgers’ ultimate downfall in many of its games was its lack of scoring. Averaging 1.79 goals per game, the team ranked last in the Big Ten.
In order to improve on that, the Knights do have their leading scorer in junior forward Katie Champion (10 goals) returning but will need to have other players step up.
Sophomore goalkeeper Shevaun Hayes played every minute of every game, making 103 saves while yielding 2.31 goals a game.
Rutgers loses two of its three captains this season in seniors Sophie Wright and Jenn Staab. Both played integral roles on the team this season and started every single game.
Whether she was playing as a defensive midfielder or as the central defender in the back three, Staab brought defensive flexibility. Rutgers utilized Wright as an attacking midfielder who controlled the pace of games.
Other than that, the Knights return every player and starter for another year to mesh and progress as a unit.