Midfielders career year yields bright spot in down year for Rutgers
Holding a disappointing record in the midst of its second season in the Big Ten, the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team finds light in the consistency from its leading scorer.
Junior midfielder Kristina Dunphey continues to put up offensive numbers despite being overshadowed by her team’s losing record.
The Hillsborough, New Jersey, native sits atop the Scarlet Knights' (3-11, 0-2) scoring leaders this season with 30 goals and 37 points after scoring twice against Maryland this past Saturday.
“I think Dunphey’s a really huge spark player, and she’s one of those players that you can always count on,” said senior attacker Halley Barnes of her teammate. “When things aren’t really going our way, she kind of takes it into her own hands and (is) willing to really put the ball in the back of the net.”
Dunphey has time after time proven to be that spark plug this season. In 13 games this season, Dunphey has recorded 10 multi-goal performances, five of which involved her scoring three or more.
The most notable of those multi-goal outings was Rutgers’ season opening win against Villanova, where Dunphey routed the Wildcats for 5 goals.
Following that win, head coach Laura Brand-Sias said her junior midfielder’s scoring outburst did not come as a surprise in its season opener.
Watching her every day in practice, Brand-Sias expressed that Dunphey is a dynamic player who is hard to stop.
From the midfield position, Dunphey sees her speed and dodging ability as the biggest strength in her game, but credits her teammates for allowing her the space to give her scoring opportunities.
“Whenever I have the ball, my teammates clear for me and give me those options to cut to the net,” Dunphey said. “Without them, I would have like 12 people (covering) me so they really clear the lanes and make open lanes.”
While her offensive numbers have been the story of her season this year, Dunphey also recognized her other responsibility as a midfielder, which lies in the defensive end of the field.
She said she believes that in order to be a true midfielder, a strong defensive game is required, which is another part of her game she has been able to develop since freshman year.
It was not as simple as joining Rutgers in her freshman year and immediately getting an opportunity to be a big factor though. Dunphey was put on bench early in her career on the Banks, having to wait behind a large group of seniors in her first season.
“Freshman year was hard because there was a lot of seniors,” Dunphey said. “But I was helping them out by being a scout and really they were pushing me to become a better attacker (and) defender.”
Given more of an opportunity in 2015 during her sophomore campaign, Dunphey thrived in the Knights’ offense despite only starting in three games.
Rutgers got a sneak-peek at her starting ability, when Dunphey tallied a career-high 7 points against James Madison last season.
Then with senior attacker Lauren Sbrilli graduating, a hole was temporarily left next to Barnes and fellow senior attacker Kim Kolodny as the Knight’s top scorers. Barnes mentioned that she had no doubt in Dunphey’s ability to fill the hole this season, as her and Sbrilli have similar playing style, making for an easy replacement.
In her three years on the Banks, Dunphey composed quite the stat line, while averaging nearly 2 points per game. In 36 games for Rutgers she has compiled 44 goals behind her 63 career points.
The Hillsborough High School product gets another chance to continue her scoring prowess against Big Ten foe Northwestern in Illinois on Sunday.
Dunphey said she will continue to rely on her teammate’s help as she remains prideful in being one of Rutgers’ biggest weapons.
“It’s a great feeling and obviously, it’s not just me," Dunphey said. "It’s my teammates who help me get the goals and the assists, so it’s really an honor to be a junior leading scorer.”
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