Rutgers looks to get edge over in-state rival
Out of four Division I field hockey programs in New Jersey, there’s only room for one at the top.
The Rutgers field hockey team looks to prove itself to not just be the only Big Ten program in the Garden State, but the state’s very best when it hosts Monmouth Wednesday afternoon.
The Scarlet Knights (2-1) enter the contest with retribution in mind.
Falling to the Hawks last year in a close 3-2 game despite a late offensive rally and trailing 3-4 in the all-time series, the Knights are keen on correcting the past with their in-state foe.
“We have history with Monmouth. … I think that we’re ready to show them what our game’s like now,” said junior defender Sofia Walia. “We’re ready to be consistent throughout the game and come out stronger and just be reckless and relentless.”
Despite a tough loss to No. 9 Virginia on Sept. 4, Rutgers currently leads the Big Ten in goals-per-game thus far, bolstering a 3.67 average. The Knights opened the season with a pair of dominant wins over Bucknell and Ball State, and the team totaled 11 goals in just three games.
Despite early victories, Rutgers is prepared for a battle and know that a win on Wednesday will not come easy.
“Monmouth’s gonna be a tough game. I think the team’s really looking forward to hosting them here at Rutgers," said head coach Meredith Civico after the loss to Virginia. "They know it’s gonna be a game, they want to play consistent hockey so that’s really gonna be the focus — come out, compete, get better than they were this game."
The Hawks are not without their own early successes. After falling to Bucknell in their season opener, Monmouth has since collected back-to-back wins at home against Lehigh and Villanova. The Knights and the Hawks currently share the same record, and Monmouth has only one less goal in the season.
Despite these similar numbers, it cannot be overlooked that the Big Ten and the MAAC play very different types of hockey.
In the National Field Hockey Coach’s Association 2015 rankings, five of the teams in the top 20 are members of the Big Ten.
No teams from the MAAC made the list.
With a formidable opponent in Monmouth and even tougher ones looming on the schedule as the season continues, it is crucial that Rutgers sticks strongly to the game they know best — its own.
The matchup with Monmouth will play a vital role in building strong momentum for the Knights as the ball gets rolling with the season — with bragging rights as an enjoyable perk.
As members of the country’s most elite conference, Rutgers is ready to show its next opponent what Big Ten field hockey is like.
“We’re not letting them get a touch on the ball,” said senior forward Katie Champion. “It’s our game. We’re gonna come out and we’re just gonna do it.”
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