Rutgers upsets No. 15 Iowa, falls to Indiana in conference opening weekend
The Rutgers field hockey team dominated in a win over the highest ranked opponent ever defeated in program history with a 2-1 upset of No. 15 Iowa in its opening conference weekend.
In their Big Ten doubleheader, the Scarlet Knights (6-3, 1-1) ended much better than they started.
The team opened up conference play with a disappointing 3-2 loss to Indiana on Friday before a tremendous rebound on Sunday against the Hawkeyes gave the program its first win over a ranked opponent since 2013.
“I think we really just realized we never wanted to feel the way we felt after Indiana ever again and regardless, win or lose, we wanna feel like we left everything on the field and (against Iowa) that’s what we did,” said senior captain Alyssa Bull.
Rutgers was riding a four-game winning streak heading into its conference opener and a late rally in the second half got the Knights tantalizingly close to taking back the game from Indiana.
The Hoosiers got on the board just before halftime but a resurged Rutgers outshot Indiana 11-4 and had a 6-0 advantage in penalty corners through the second half.
“Indiana, we just came out a little bit flat,” Bull said. “We didn’t have the energy and they got us back on our heels in the first half, and then when we started to play our game with our energy, it was just a little bit too late. We fought till the last minute and it was really close.”
Not getting the outcome they wanted on Friday left the Knights even hungrier for a win on Sunday.
With a menacing opponent in Iowa and only one day to prepare, Rutgers had to get up and dust off the dirt quickly in order to reset its momentum.
“Saturday, we practiced at the Iowa field and that was one of the biggest practices that we had the most energy ever, I think,” said senior captain Devon Freshnock. “It was just a positive energy and our chemistry was really on point ... I think that really made a difference — just the way we practiced and (gave) 100 percent of what we had.”
Not only have the Knights never earned a victory over the Hawkeyes, but they also haven’t defeated a Big Ten opponent since 2014 — until Sunday.
With its victory, Rutgers has finally made the statement its been looking to make since entering the Big Ten three years ago — not only can it compete with powerhouse conference rivals, it can also defeat them.
“Iowa is a very good team with a long-standing tradition of winning and I think this win is about us. It’s about what we’re capable of doing, it’s about our potential, it’s about our process,” said head coach Meredith Civico. “We knew that this weekend was really critical going into Big Ten play and we were not coming out of today’s match without a win.”
This weekend, the Knights proved just how different of a team they are compared to last year.
It is no longer the team that goes 0-8 in conference play, it's now the team that responds to a loss with an upset victory over one of the top teams in the country.
Civico's first ever recruiting class is represented in the eight seniors on the team this season. The fifth-year coach sees their leadership as the key to making weekends like this possible.
“I think (the senior class) was really the difference — really getting everybody on board, getting everybody focused, getting everybody believing that we didn’t play our best game on Friday and we had more to give and we had better hockey to play.”
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