No. 7 Maryland spoils Senior Day with 4-0 shutout of Rutgers
In a decisive double-header weekend on the Banks, the Rutgers field hockey team landed on the wrong side of the scoreboard against two conference foes, taking defeats at the hands of Penn State and No. 7 Maryland.
The Scarlet Knights (6-9, 0-7) came tantalizingly close to their first Big Ten win of the season on Friday against the Nittany Lions, but ultimately took a 3-2 overtime loss.
On Sunday, Rutgers went head-to-head with conference powerhouse Maryland (13-3, 6-0). The Terps stand at the forefront of Big Ten standings with an undefeated conference record and picked up their 11th straight victory after spoiling Senior Day for the Knights with a 4-0 shutout win.
All in all, it was a tough weekend for Rutgers.
“It was hard this weekend," said senior captain Ali Stever. "I think Penn State, we really came out, we believed that we were gonna get the outcome and we didn’t, obviously. But I think that we really learned from our mistakes on Friday."
The veteran midfielder said she is proud of her team for implementing some of the necessary changes into Sunday’s game with the Terps.
“Coming out (Sunday), the improvements that were made were just awesome to see,” Stever said. “You know that you have to learn from your mistakes and it was unfortunate that we had to learn like that. But I think that — I mean, as long as we’re fixing them, that’s all we can really ask for.”
Prior to the game with Penn State, the Nittany Lions stood only one spot above the Knights in conference standings. The heartbreaking loss, paired with the shutout against Maryland, eliminates the bid for postseason play at the Big Ten Championships for Rutgers.
But the weekend was not without some bright spots.
In the hard-fought overtime battle against Penn State, freshman midfielder Linde van Schaik netted her first career goal on a penalty stroke that tied up the game at 1-1.
After the Nittany Lions capitalized on a penalty corner with no time left in the first half to give themselves a 2-1 lead, senior forward Katie Champion found the back of the net for her 20th career goal.
With junior forward Rachel Yaney on the assist, the goal puts Champion in a tie for 10th on the Rutgers all-time mark in both goals and points.
Against the Terrapins, the Knights got off to an unsteady start and Maryland took advantage by scoring four goals in the first half. But a strong rebound in the second half kept Rutgers in its attacking 25 for most of the game, holding the Terps scoreless throughout the rest of the contest.
Although the Knights ride on a four-game losing skid with the latest losses, they walk away from Bauer Track/Field Hockey Complex for the last time this season knowing what needs to be done in games moving forward.
“I think (the takeaway is) just focusing on us and focusing on how we play and not kind of giving in to whoever we’re playing’s game style," said senior forward Nicole Imbriaco. "… Just really focusing on what we do best and how we’re gonna win the game."
Every game for Rutgers reveals areas of improvement as well as the vast potential the team has despite its apparent underdog status.
Head coach Meredith Civico is proud of her team for the fight it put up, but also looks forward to seeing the necessary changes implemented onto the field in the future.
“I think if we’ve got a high work rate and we stick with the game plan and we stay disciplined on defense and we stay disciplined on attack, we can play with anybody,” Civico said. “If we had done that in the first half (against Maryland), it could’ve been a different game. I think we’ve really got to come out ready to play and ready to work hard and it can’t take us a half to figure it out. We’ve got to make those adjustments and changes on the field and we’ve got to make them fast.”
While the score may not necessarily reflect it, the level of performance the Knights put out this weekend proves their worthiness to belong in the prestigious Big Ten Conference.
Though it is a process, Rutgers is optimistic that the remainder of the season will continue to perpetuate this certainty.
“After Penn State, we kind of talked about it and we said the rest of the season is just about pride. I think especially in the second half against Maryland, we realized we can play with anyone so I think we’re really back on the path to kind of rebuild confidence in the team and understand that we are good and we can play with anyone,” Stever said. “I think this weekend was a really good confidence booster. We really have nothing to lose so we can just go out and give it our all for the rest of the games.”
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