Rutgers anticipates home upset over No. 10 Penn
Coming off of a blowout loss this past weekend, the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team can expect another tough matchup this week, as it is set to face a top-ten team in the nation.
The Scarlet Knights (2-2) will face the No. 10 Penn Quakers (2-0) this Wednesday at 6 p.m., making this the first ranked opponent of the season for Rutgers. The Knights are making their return to High Point Solutions Stadium after a two-game road trip, where the team went 1-1.
“They are a really strong team,” said Rutgers head coach Laura Brand-Sias. “We are going to have to tighten up a couple of things on our end.”
Over the two-game road trip, Rutgers traveled first to Pennsylvania to take on the Lafayette Leopards and pulled out the win after a stellar second half. The Knights scored 8 goals in the half and kept Lafayette to just 3 in a 15-10 final effort.
This past weekend, Rutgers traveled down to Newark, Delaware to face the Blue Hens in Delaware Stadium. The Knights did not work well offensively as they did against Lafayette and they could not contain the Blue Hen offense, eventually getting blown out, 17-5, in a tough loss.
Although the game was out of reach, there were still highlights for the visitors, including a hat trick on four shots from red shirt junior attacker Nicole Kopyta. Kopyta also picked up one ground ball and had only one turnover on the day.
“Penn is a really great team, so I think we have to go into the game on Wednesday knowing that we can hang with them,” Kopyta said. “We need to start off really hot, because we didn’t come out swinging against Delaware, so I think if people keep their confidence up, keep their heads up and do the things we know we can do well, I think we can pull one out.”
Kopyta is second on the team, with a total points of 10, even though she has not started any games thus far in the season.
Attackers Amanda Turturro, the team's captain and a senior, and sophomore Abbey Brooks supplied the Knights with their other two goals in the game. Turturro leads the team with 11 points in the four contests played so far this season.
Overall, Rutgers took 18 shots with 13 of them in range of the goal compared to 29 shots taken by Delaware, with 25 of them being on target.
With this in mind, Brooks held that being more clinical in front of the net is the only way Rutgers will pose a threat to the Pennsylvania side.
“UPenn is definitely just as good as Delaware, if not better, so we need to focus on finishing and pushing the fast break," Brooks said.
On Penn’s side, the Quakers are coming off of two straight wins to start off their season. Last Saturday, the Quakers defeated Johns Hopkins University, 10-7, and look to continue their undefeated start to the season this weekend against Rutgers.
In the all-time series between the Knights and the Quakers, Rutgers leads, 9-7. Despite this, the Knights haven't beaten Penn since 2013 and are currently on a three-game losing streak to the Quakers.
In last year’s matchup, Rutgers got off to a bad start and couldn’t get back into the game, after going into halftime down, 7-1. The Knights had a stronger second half, but couldn’t contain the Quakers and ultimately lost the game, 15-8.
“We will have a little bit of a different look since we’ve been playing mainly against zone defenses as of late and they play a man-to-man defense," Brand-Sias said. “They are just always good at what they do, so we’ve got another big challenge ahead of us on Wednesday.”
Last year’s game versus Penn marked the first career start for then-freshman goalkeeper Devon Kearns, who made six saves in 38:30 minutes of play.
Rutgers hopes to do some good with its time back in Piscataway, as it will have back-to-back games on the road as the season kicks into high gear. The Knights will head out to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to face Drexel this Saturday at 1 p.m., and then make the long trip to Harrisonburg, Virginia the next weekend to square off against James Madison University.
“I think we kind of faded away from our lacrosse game,” Brooks said. “It’s a tough week, we have Penn on Wednesday and Drexel on Saturday, but as long as we stay focused and stick to our game plan I think we’ll be fine.”
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