Rutgers secures second consecutive victory
It was a game for the record books.
The Rutgers field hockey team posted a season-high five goals against Villanova Friday afternoon at the Bauer Track and Field Complex, defeating the Wildcats by a final score of 5-2 and advancing to 4-1 this season.
Junior midfielder Alyssa Bull and senior forward Nicole Imbriaco tallied two goals apiece, with junior defender Sofia Walia's one goal rounding out the Scarlet Knights’ offensive fire for the day.
After a messy 4-2 victory over Monmouth early last week, the Knights readjusted and revamped, to say the least.
“I’m really proud of the team for coming out and get a win against Villanova coming off of a battle against Monmouth on Wednesday,” said head coach Meredith Civico. “Scoring five goals today and four goals against Monmouth was just a really awesome feat by the team. We’ve been working a lot on committing numbers forward and creating offensive overloads and finishing in the circle. That’s been something we’ve been focusing on since last spring so to see it translating is awesome.”
After a strong start, Rutgers headed into halftime with a 2-0 lead thanks to a pair of goals from Bull and Imbriaco, with an assist from junior Rachel Yaney.
But they weren’t satisfied with just that.
Imbriaco found the back to the cage again not even five minutes into the second half, pushing the Knights to a 3-0 lead. Although the Wildcats were able to answer with two goals of their own, Rutgers put its set pieces to action, tallying two more goals, both off penalty corner plays, to salt the game away.
Seniors Ali Stever and Katie Champion assisted a shot on goal blasted by Walia from the top of the circle. Stever and Imbriaco kept their offensive contributions rolling from there, assisting Bull in the final goal of the game, a fifth and final insurance goal.
With the win over Villanova, the Knights have scored at least three goals in every game this season and have outshot every opponent they've faced thus far. The team leads the Big Ten with an average of four goals scored per game and 13 players now have at least one point on the season.
Feeding off of one another’s individual accomplishments, Rutgers continues to be propelled toward collective success. The results are both renowned and transparent.
A captain this year, Stever’s two assists against the Wildcats pushes her to a career-high three assists and 5 points on the season.
The overall enhancements generated so far prove that despite only graduating two seniors, this is not the same Rutgers team from last season.
“From the first whistle at this game, we were just at them and I think the fact that we’re scoring five goals a game is a huge improvement from last year to this year,” Stever said.
Consistently maintaining their own game is a crucial factor contributing to successful outcomes for the Knights. Rutgers is proving something with every game it plays, gaining confidence in its own ability each time it steps on the field.
“I think that this game really just showed and verified that we can find a way to win," Stever said. "Villanova played a very different style than we’re used to or the way that we like to play so I think we adjusted really well and stayed composed and played together as a team. It’s really just proving to ourselves that we can play that way despite what our opponent is doing.”
Stever is among many Knights to be earning early milestones.
This was Bull’s second multi-point game of her career, with the first one dating back in 2012. The midfielder now has a career-high of three assists on the season.
Friday’s match up was also Imbriaco’s first multi-point game of her career and pushed her to a career-high with 12 points on the season. The Clark, New Jersey, native now has five goals on the season in just five games, already tying her career-high set last season through 19 total games.
There is no shortage of triumphs to feed off of. The team now looks forward to carrying its strong momentum into its first conference game against No. 15 Iowa next weekend.
“I think coming out being 4-1 right now is just awesome, it’s a great start and to have that 4-1 record right now going into our first Big Ten game is huge,” Imbriaco said. “We can’t let down whatsoever but I think it’s a great positive start and it’ll give us that energy and kind of motivation to keep this going.”
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