Rutgers edges Bobcats in rebound victory
The effort put in doesn’t always match the results that come out.
The Rutgers field hockey team tastes this dissatisfaction after going 1-1 on a road trip to East Lansing, Michigan, where it took on Big Ten foe Michigan State and non-conference opponent Ohio.
In the search for their first conference victory, the Scarlet Knights (6-5, 0-4) fell short in a razor close 5-4 double-overtime loss to Michigan State (4-7, 1-3) on Friday.
Rutgers was able to rebound against Mid-American Conference rival Ohio (5-5) on Sunday with a 2-1 to break even on the weekend and maintain a winning record.
But the sting of another Big Ten loss is one that resonates.
“Obviously we’re disappointed, you know, we didn’t come away with a win against Michigan State,” said head coach Meredith Civico. “It was a hard fought game and it was back and forth until the very last second. We scored some nice goals and then we kind of gave up a lot of space and we gave up a lot defensively.”
Nevertheless, the Knights came out hard and fast on Friday.
While Sophie Macadre of the Spartans got on the board first, Rutgers wasted no time in answering. Junior forward Rachel Yaney notched a goal just over three minutes after Michigan State took its 1-0 lead on a deflection from redshirt junior Alyssa Bull.
Macadre was able to regain the edge for her team later in the first, Yaney was again the one to counter. Just before the end of the first half, she tallied her second goal of the game with senior defender Sophia Walia on the assist.
Heading into halftime, the conference foes matched 2-2 and it was anyone’s game.
Senior forward Nicole Imbriaco got the ball rolling in the second half, notching her 11th goal of the season off an assist from senior forward Katie Champion. But Macadre completed a hat trick just 29 seconds later, leveling the score.
With both teams finding the back of the net once again, starting with an unassisted goal from Bull, the Knights and the Spartans headed into overtime.
After a total of 50 minutes of scoreless play, that included two overtime periods, a goal for Michigan State with just 10 seconds left in the second overtime gave the Spartans the edge they needed to collect their first conference win.
Through this tough, junior goalkeeper Shevaun Hayes tied her single-game career high with 13 saves for the second time this season and Yaney earned her second multi-goal game of her career.
On Sunday against Ohio, Rutgers had its eyes on the win column and nothing else.
“We watched the film as a team and they saw where we fell short and they saw where we made mistakes and they really focused on those areas in today’s game and played some really good hockey today,” Civico said after Sunday’s game.
With an assist coming from freshman midfielder Linde van Shaik, Yaney continued to light up the scoreboard at Ralph Young Field. The Bridgewater, New Jersey, native scored a goal that gave the Knights a 1-0 lead they would hold through the next 45 minutes of play.
Sophomore forward Jade Dixon later took advantage of a hard shot by Imbriaco to boost Rutgers to a 2-0 lead. Ohio evaded a shutout loss with a lone goal just over one minute left in game play.
Despite the late offensive rally for the Bobcats, Rutgers came away with a win to boost their confidence after a disappointing conference loss. The Knights were able to bolster motivation from Friday’s game to propel them toward a successful end to the weekend.
“I think we were really unsatisfied with the first game so we really worked hard today to come out with a win and play our game,” Dixon said after the Ohio game. “We just came out with an attitude today that we weren’t going to get out of our circle without scoring and (we were) just make up for the game on Friday.”
Resilient despite the absence of a Big Ten win, Rutgers is using the Michigan State game as a learning experience that will better prepare them for games moving forward through this fall.
The sting of defeat undoubtedly bolsters motivation. In every contest, especially conference play, one thing is demanded — all or nothing.
“I think because that was our first overtime game of the season, we know how it feels—we know how it feels to lose and we know how much hard work it takes to win,” Yaney said. “Since we only have four Big Ten games left, we’re definitely gonna come out stronger.”
With a win to cushion the pang of defeat, the Knights move on from this weekend with the assurance that they are not complete outsiders in the Big Ten.
Execution will be the key that opens up the door to post-season success.
“Obviously it’s disappointing to lose but I think the mentality kind of throughout the weekend is that we’re there, we’re close, and we’ve got to tighten things up and we’ve got to manage the game better,” Civico said. “I think that they understand that and they know kind of what we need to do in order to win these games.”
For updates on the Rutgers field hockey team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.