Rutgers returns to Piscataway without win on road trip
Scores and statistics can only tell so much of the story.
While the Rutgers field hockey team went 0-2 during its road trip out west to Ohio, the numbers don’t reflect the fight put up on the field.
The Scarlet Knights (6-7, 0-5) suffered a 7-1 loss to Miami (Ohio) on Sunday after being shutout by Ohio State, 3-0, on Friday.
While the outcomes of these last two games were not what Rutgers had hoped for, the experience is nevertheless one that the team can learn from.
“I think, unfortunately, this weekend didn’t go the way we wanted, but we’ve got to kind of view it as a process and take the things from it that we can and recognize the mistakes that we made,” said head coach Meredith Civico. “I think the score doesn’t necessarily reflect the hockey that we played and it’s unfortunate that we did concede so many goals, but I think there were some positive takeaways and we’ve just got to keep working, we’ve got to believe in the process … I’m confident that they’re going to rise from this.”
Ohio State got on the board just over 10 minutes into the match. Though the Knights held the Buckeyes offense at bay through the remainder of the opening frame, a penalty stroke furthered Ohio State’s lead to 2-0 just over nine minutes into the second half.
The Buckeyes tallied a late insurance goal with just over 10 minutes left in the game to secure a 3-0 shutout.
Although Rutgers led the Big Ten in goals scored per game throughout the first half of the season, offensive struggles plagued the Knights in Columbus and had a momentous impact in the outcome of this latest conference matchup.
“Friday against Ohio State was really kind of a matter of us not executing in our attacking 25,” Civico said. “We created some quality opportunities but just couldn’t quite finish and the momentum kind of shifted their way early in the game. We really couldn’t get a handle on the scoring and that ultimately, I think, is the reason we fell short.”
After suffering its second shutout of the season, Rutgers ventured to Oxford for a Sunday game against Miami at Ohio. Once the RedHawks got the offense outcomes going their way, they were relentless.
Miami scored five goals in a matter of 15 minutes in the middle of the first half, taking a 5-0 lead into the half.
But the Knights maintained both their composure and fought.
“Today’s game was definitely two completely different halves from the team,” Civico said after Sunday’s game. “I think we came out in the first five to 10 minutes and were strong. We gave up a penalty corner goal in the first fifteen minutes or so, and I think fatigue definitely set in and we made some defensive errors.”
Despite a five-goal deficit, Rutgers returned to the field after the first half strong.
“I think we really refocused at halftime," Civico said. "Regardless of what the score was at the time, we talked about what we needed to do. We just reiterated what our focuses were, defined the way we play and then came out and really battled back in the second half.”
Within the first five minutes of the second frame, junior defender Devon Freshnock took advantage of a penalty corner and got her team on the board. The Middletown, New Jersey, native finished on a pass from junior defender Elyse Broderick after senior forward Katie Champion made the insert.
Miami offense countered late in the game with two more goals in the second half that secured a 7-1 victory for the RedHawks.
Though the results were disappointing for the Knights this weekend, the team remains positive in their outlook on the season moving forward and will use the experience as a productive stepping stone.
“I think this weekend was really good for us. We realized a lot of things we need to fix going into next weekend. I think we learned a lot,” Freshnock said. “I think the biggest thing is just playing our game and being smart with the ball. We’ll get the outcome if we work hard.”
Each game provides the opportunity to identify areas of weakness and sharpen established strengths and skills. These latest games reinforce the necessity for Rutgers to maintain control over the game and be strong in executing.
“I think really, we just have to focus on playing our game. We got stuck playing how they wanted us to play instead of sticking to our basics and moving the ball how we know to,” said junior midfielder and team captain Alyssa Bull. “I think if we can get back to that and just start connecting all over the field that we’ll be good.”
Moving forward in the season, the Knights look to rebound from these losses by correcting any mistakes made and implementing the necessary adjustments.
The seemingly disheartening numbers and statistics only bolster further enthusiasm and motivation for Rutgers.
The Knights are unwaveringly optimistic about their season moving forward.
“I think we’re gonna hit a turning point. Obviously it’s not the best having a couple of losing games, but I think we have really recognized what needs to change,” Bull said. “We still all have a really positive attitude and we know we can still do it. I think that we’re just gonna keep moving forward from here.”
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