Rutgers continues scoring tear in 6-0 shutout
The best way to handle a missed shot is to get the rebound.
The Rutgers field hockey team took up its opportunity to do this over the weekend in Iowa City, Iowa.
After facing defeat in their first Big Ten game of the season against No. 16 Iowa through a close 4-3 battle, the Scarlet Knights rallied a strong recovery less than 24 hours later, shutting out Missouri State (2-5) by a final score of 6-0.
The fiery enthusiasm the Knights have brought to every game so far was carried into their first road trip. Indisputably, Rutgers did not surrender its second loss of the season without a fight.
Although Iowa (5-3, 1-0) got on the board first just 43 seconds into game play, senior forward Katie Champion answered with an unassisted goal to level the score. The teams matched at 1-1 through the end of the first half, with the Knights holding a 10-2 advantage in shots.
After a goal for the Hawkeyes kicked off the scoring in the second half, Rutgers retaliated with a game-tying goal coming from senior forward Nicole Imbriaco, with Champion on the assist.
But in a powerful offensive rally, the Hawkeyes scored two back-to-back goals to bolster a 4-2 lead. Rutgers defense had its work cut out for itself, with the Big Ten leaders in shots per game, points per game, goals per game and assists per game all calling Iowa City home.
Fighting through the game’s entire 70 minutes, the Knights shrunk the Hawkeyes’ lead to one lone goal after Imbriaco found the back of the net on a penalty corner, with Elyse Broderick picking up her first career assist. The offense for the day would end there, however, and Rutgers landed on the wrong side of the scoreboard at 4-3.
After a valiant effort against a formidable conference foe, the Knights walked off the field still hungry for a win on Grant Field.
Returning the very next day to take on Missouri State, Rutgers put up a fierce comeback.
Scoring twice for the third game in a row, Imbriaco joined Champion, freshman Caitlin Nitschmann and juniors Rachel Yaney and Devon Freshnock to round out the Knights' unstoppable offense.
It started with Yaney, who found the back of the cage just 1:06 into the game, deflecting a shot from the top of the circle by Alyssa Bull.
Rutgers continued to fire away, netting two more goals just 12 seconds apart from one another. Champion notched her second unassisted goal of the weekend, with Imbriaco following suit and finishing with a deflection on a pass from Nitschmann.
Nitschmann wasn’t quite finished. The Bordentown, New Jersey, native scored the second goal of her career to give her team a 4-0 lead just 19 minutes into the contest.
Imbriaco then collected a pass from Freshnock at the top of the circle to net her second goal of the game before the end of the first half, pushing the Knights to a 5-0 lead over the Bears at halftime.
Rutgers took advantage of a set piece in the second, with Freshnock finishing on a pass from junior defender Sophia Walia to conclude the weekend’s scoring marks.
Leading Missouri State 10-1 in corners and 15-4 in shots, 14 different Knights now have at least one point on the season.
After sharing time in goal, Katie Beilin and junior Shevaun Hayes combined on the shutout. Through Beilin’s first career game action, the sophomore collected one save through almost 13 minutes in the cage. Hayes now has two shutouts on the season through seven total games.
Despite the 1-1 weekend record, Rutgers remains at the top of the conference standings in goals per game. Imbriaco also currently ranks second in the Big Ten in goals per game and third in points per game.
With learning opportunities and positive feats scattered throughout the back-to-back match ups, the Knights can take away valuable experiences from their unwavering efforts.
For Rutgers, it wasn’t the way it started the weekend — it was the way it finished.
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