Rutgers travels to Monmouth seeking revenge
One thing lingers in the minds of the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team heading into its second game of the season — revenge.
The Scarlet Knights (1-0) travel to West Long Branch to face Monmouth (0-1) on Wednesday, where they look to avenge the loss they suffered in double overtime against the Hawks last season. The Knights head into the matchup with a chip on their shoulder, having the loss still fresh in their memory.
“We are out for blood, there is no simpler way to put it and there is no nice way play it,” said senior defender Taylor Pennell.
Rutgers was undefeated against Monmouth prior to last season, but their record against the Hawks fell to 11-1 in what was a devastating loss. Pennell said the Knights want to regain the title of being the superior team in their Wednesday matinee matchup.
The game against Monmouth is personally important to senior attacker Halley Barnes. The newly appointed team captain finished with five goals in her game against the Hawks last season, but still recalls missing a potential game-winning shot in overtime from the free position.
While five goals in a game is a nice accomplishment, nothing is greater than a win.
“It’s all about redemption for me,” she said. “Whether I score five goals or one goal, if we come up with the win and we work as hard as we can, that’s what I really want to be proud of.”
The Hawks play a style similar to the backer-zone defense the Knights' prior opponent, Villanova, uses.
“When you are in a backer-zone defense, it is less about their personnel and more about their systems,” Brand-Sias said.
For the Knights to be successful like they were against Villanova, its attackers need to produce against Monmouth, use their speed and maintain good ball movement will be key.
Rutgers goes into their second game of the season coming off a win in their opener at Villanova where offensive production was in full effect.
Some of the Knights' leading scorers from last season were able to start off the year where they left, getting five goals from junior attacker Kristina Dunphey, two from senior attacker Kim Kolodny and two from Barnes.
On defense, although there were a couple of struggles in their season opener, the team adjusted well to the different offensive strategies Rutgers was tested with.
Monmouth is coming off a 9-1 loss in their season opener against Towson last Wednesday.
The Knights' biggest challenges against the Hawks will come from the Hawks senior midfielder Marial Pierce and senior defender Kristina Vangeli, who were selected to the MAAC Preseason All-Conference team.
Pierce was Monmouth’s leading point scorer in 2015 and scored two goals in the Hawks' win over Rutgers last year.
Vangeli led the Hawks in caused turnovers with 25 and was selected three times as the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Defensive Player of the Week.
Some might view this as just another game, but for Rutgers, it’s personal.
“We’re all fired up and we’re ready,” Pennell said.
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