Rutgers defeats St. Joseph's in overtime Sunday, fall to Michigan Friday
The Rutgers field hockey team won a thrilling overtime match against St. Joseph's Sunday afternoon with a score of 1-0.
A low-scoring contest by any standards, it was a defensive battle throughout, and it was only until a sudden death winner by fifth-year senior forward Alyssa Bull that the side was able to claim victory.
Ten minutes into overtime, Bull was laid out on the turf inside the goal cage after sending a beautiful cross-cage pass from senior forward Rachel Yaney into the net.
Goalscorer Bull said she and her teammates need to do whatever they could to get the ball in the back of the net, even if it meant putting their bodies on the ground.
Following the Scarlet Knights' 25 shots and 17 penalty corners, the game was finally over.
The Knights' (7-5, 1-3 Big Ten) home bench cleared after Bull’s game-winner and the team huddled to celebrate a victorious end to a long, drawn out battle with the Hawks (9-5, 4-0).
The weekend ended better than it started for Rutgers, as it entered Sunday's affair after a tough 3-1 loss to Michigan on Friday.
But on Sunday, as Yaney said, it was all about execution.
“We played awesome hockey but didn’t have that final piece,” Yaney said. “Opportunities are slim and we can’t risk it and take the chances. We just have to put everything out there … It doesn’t matter if we play beautiful hockey — it’s just whoever scores.”
In Friday’s matchup, the Knights and Michigan matched with five attack penalty corners each. Michigan scored all three of its goals on set pieces while the New Brunswick side didn’t finish on any. Yaney tallied Rutgers’ lone goal, the 20th of her career, on an unassisted shot after running the ball down the sideline.
After taking a beating from the Wolverines, Rutgers’ defensive penalty corner unit made major adjustments in training on Saturday and got the results. St. Joe’s was not able to capitalize on any of its three set piece opportunities.
Attack penalty corners are a different story.
The Knights remained ineffective in their attacking circle and didn’t score on any of their 17 corners against the Hawks.
Head coach Meredith Civico said she didn’t need to say much to her team about their set piece execution issues. It was already well-known within the locker room.
“We generated so many attack penalty corners and I think to not being able to finish was a little disappointing," Civico said. "That was something at the end of the game, the team was just adamant about focusing on that this week and they’re adamant that we have to create goals on those opportunities. We’re doing great things but it’s some of the details — the positioning, the timing.”
The scores of its games are not reflective of the level of hockey Rutgers has been playing. Finishing has been the team's biggest enemy.
Making that change will be critical to the momentum of the season as well as its duration as postseason play looms around the corner.
“We’re obviously creating the opportunities, we’re just not getting there at the second phase and on the back post," Bull said. “I think the weekend as a whole, we need to take away that we need to put the ball in the back of the net."
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