Rutgers outlasts Monmouth
On paper, there was only one game. But really, two were played.
The Rutgers field hockey team took on Monmouth Wednesday afternoon, edging the Hawks, 4-2, after a halftime rally completely altered the game play.
The Scarlet Knights (3-1) took an early lead with junior Alyssa Bull scoring on an assist from senior forward Katie Champion just over five minutes into the game, but Monmouth answered with a game-tying goal with less than five minutes left in the first half, leveling the score at 1-1.
A frantic and scattered start to the game sent the Knights into a halftime team huddle frustrated and in need of a change. Rutgers ran onto the field in the second half ready to execute.
“It wasn’t the prettiest hockey in the first half but we all worked hard and in the second half, we definitely cleaned it up. Monmouth gave us a good game,” said sophomore forward Jade Dixon. “After we talked and got ourselves together, I think we really just came out with more energy and played to our strengths as a team.”
The changes the Knights made became evident immediately. Just over three minutes into the second half, freshman Caitlin Nischmann notched her first career goal unassisted.
But Monmouth would not surrender the game easily.
Nearly five minutes later, the Hawks tied up the score again on a penalty corner shot tipped into the net.
Still, Rutgers remained composed and fought back hard. Dixon scored her first career goal with an assist from Bull. Champion then notched an insurance goal for the Knights, assisted by freshman Linde van Schaik.
Outshooting Monmouth, 23-12, and scoring four goals in a game for the third consecutive game, Rutgers takes a victory of redemption after falling to the Hawks, 3-2, last season.
Despite consistency issues, head coach Meredith Civico remains focused on the positive aspects of the game and the learning opportunities it presents.
“It wasn’t our best game of hockey but we came out with a win and the team did a really good job of adjusting to Monmouth in the second half," Civico said. "I think that ability to adjust and stay composed under pressure was really the difference-maker."
She further expressed pride in the team's adjustment as the game progressed.
“I’m proud of the way that they adjusted and came back out, you know, to really take control of the game," she said. "Monmouth is a team that, they fight so hard and they put a lot of pressure on you and they don’t give you room to see anything or really make decisions so that was good for our team to kind of be under that pressure and have to work it out.”
The experience of facing a formidable opponent and actively making live changes will be a vital asset for the Knights as they moves forward into conference play later this season.
While it is important to acknowledge blunders, Rutgers remains proud of the transformation it made and the favorable outcome that resulted.
“It was a completely different game in the second half," Bull said. "We really were just very composed and calm and we used each other and played to our strengths whereas in the first half, we were kinda shakey. We all decided that we needed to calm down and play with each other and just communicate on the field. We were able to leave the first half behind us and move into the second half with an open mind and a fresh clean slate.”
For updates on the Rutgers field hockey team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.