Turnovers spawn double-digit loss for Rutgers
It was the best of halves and it was the worst of halves.
The Rutgers women’s lacrosse team suffered its second consecutive double-digit loss in a 18-7 thrashing against UConn on Saturday at the George J. Sherman Family Sports Complex.
The (4-3) dominated the Scarlet Knights (1-5) in the second half, outscoring them 12-1 to extinguish any hopes of a comeback.
The Knights may have believed they were suffering from deja vu when the Huskies jumped out to an early 6-2 lead halfway through the initial period. They were in a nearly identical dilemma just three days prior in their matchup with then-No. 13 Penn.
Only this time, Rutgers did not let the opposition ride the momentum to the finish line.
The Knights came storming back, scoring the next four goals to draw even at 6-6.
UConn snuck in one more goal to give themselves a 7-6 cushion before halftime. Still, the momentum seemed to be trending toward the visitors. Rutgers entered the second period with a man-up opportunity and confidence in gaining their first lead.
The Huskies didn’t get the memo.
UConn was unstoppable in the second half and the Knights had no answers.
“It was definitely a tale of two halves. The first half was extremely close," said head coach Laura Brand-Sias. "We started the second half with a man-up opportunity. We had a good opportunity to tie up the game right away. I think when we didn’t do that, and then UConn went on that two-goal swing, we just spiraled down from there."
Numbers never lie, and they demonstrate how lopsided the contest was.
Rutgers led UConn in draw controls, 15-12, but that is where the bright side ends for the Knights.
The Huskies outshot Rutgers, 38-18, and recovered three times as many ground balls as the Knights.
According to Brand-Sias, the overwhelming quantity of turnovers doomed Rutgers to its disappointing second half.
“There were a number of factors that played into it, but us turning the ball over was huge," she said. "We did a really good job on the draw control, but we shouldn’t have had that many turnovers. We didn’t take care of the ball in transition. It was mostly mistakes on our part."
The Knights' ability to keep up with the Huskies in the first half was largely due to the play of Melissa Arthur. The senior attacker ran the show for Rutgers, notching one goal and dishing out a career high 4 assists.
Arthur tends to deliver her finest performances against UConn, setting career-highs in points and assists in last season’s meeting as well.
The Cherokee High School (N.J.) product is ranked tenth nationally in assists following her memorable outing. Maybe more impressive, this is Arthur’s first year as a regular starter, but she’s playing like a seasoned veteran.
“Every day at practice, I work on my assists. I’m more of an assister than a shooter. It is there every day in practice, so I finally brought it out to a game and I was connecting with everyone on the field,” Arthur said. “This is my first year really playing on the field the whole game and it’s cool to see it all pay off.”
Despite Arthur’s monumental shift in attack, Rutgers was held to single-digit goals for the second consecutive contest after scoring in the double-digits in the initial four games of the campaign.
While the Knights continue to own a commanding lead of the series, 13-5, UConn has quietly won the last three meetings with Rutgers, closing the gap slowly but surely.
The Knights will put this defeat behind them and pursue the end of their five-game skid on Wednesday when they host Temple. Senior midfielder Lauren Sbrilli is counting on bouncing back against the Owls.
“We need to work on transitioning the ball when we recover it on defense," Sbrilli said. "We’ll watch film during the week, and hopefully we can bring our best game and get the win."
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