Mix of youth, experience has Rutgers off to impressive start
Head field hockey coach Meredith Civico said that this year’s team is the best she’s ever coached at Rutgers.
It’s easy to see why.
The Scarlet Knights (5-2) are currently riding a four-game winning streak and remain undefeated at home (4-0). Rutgers set a program record in its most recent game against Siena after scoring 13 goals, the most in a single game since 1976.
But this team’s distinctiveness extends beyond the numbers and statistics.
“This is a special group and I tell them that everyday,” Civico said. “To be honest, it sounds cheesy, but it’s kind of a feeling when you’re with this group. You know that they’re gonna work for each other, you know that they believe in each other, you know that they are a group that wants to make a name for this program and leave it better than they found it.”
With 33 goals on the season through just seven games, Rutgers ranks second nationally in scoring average at 4.70, just behind Penn State at 5.50. The Knights also lead the Big Ten in assists per game.
Both players and coaches echo the same sentiment on how exactly this Rutgers team has distinguished itself.
“If you look at our team and you kind of see them on the field, off the field, you couldn’t tell who was a senior and who was a freshman, which I think is really special,” Civico said. “And that does not happen often, that is special and that is a key ingredient, I think, for winning championships.”
The Knights are led by a dynamic group of eight seniors, but that hasn’t kept the rookies from making an impact. There’s one freshman starting in each position area, from the forward line down to the back end. Freshman goalkeeper Amanda Lamb also earned her first career start, and win, between the pipes last Sunday against Siena.
By comparison, one freshman started in the 2015 season.
In many ways, it is a new year for Rutgers field hockey.
“It’s definitely a different atmosphere — it’s awesome. We have so much fun together,” said senior midfielder Elyse Broderick. “I think the freshman coming in, they just brought a different vibe and we just get along so well. I think because we’re able to do that off the field, playing out here together is so much more fun and we’re fluid and it just kind of clicks.”
Rutgers' team chemistry is evident everywhere, from the giggles during warm-up stretching at practice to the counter-defense double plays in games.
The Knights are utilizing the concept of "team focused" in a different way this season. It is unique in its prominence within every player on the field.
“We’re all working towards the same goal and we’re really focusing on what’s best for the team rather than what’s best for each individual and you can really see that with every single player on the team,” said redshirt senior captain Alyssa Bull. “I think that’s what’s really helping us right now — that it’s a team focus and we’re doing everything for each other.”
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