Rutgers looks to ride momentum into home contest against Niagara
Taking a break from conference action, the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team will continue its home stand this Tuesday at High Point Solutions Stadium with a midweek game against Niagara.
The Scarlet Knights (6-4, 1-1) will be facing a Purple Eagles (4-4, 1-0) team that will try and take out Rutgers on the road after playing two games in just three days.
The Knights will come into Tuesday night’s game winners of four of their last five games and look for even more, hoping to prove themselves worthy of joining the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rankings.
Rutgers played the Ohio State Buckeyes on Friday in its first game of a four-game home stretch. The Knights easily handled the Buckeyes, defeating them 15-5 and taking their first conference win of the season.
“I feel great,” said head coach Laura Brand-Sias. “In the first half, we were doing some really nice things, but we just couldn’t land our shots very well, we went 5 for 20. Then in the second half, we went 10-for-16 shooting is much better.”
This was the third straight victory for Rutgers against Ohio State, stemming back to two overtime wins last season, including one in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
“Beating them last year, they were a ranked opponent, really put us on a higher pedestal,” said junior midfielder Paige Paratore, who had 2 goals in Friday's win. “It showed us what we could do, so going against them again we knew they would be out for blood so we had to play even harder. We knew it was going to be a really good game.”
In Friday's action, Rutgers came out striking early, scoring 5 of the first 6 goals in the game and taking a 5-3 lead into the locker room after the first half horn sounded.
Senior team captain attacker Amanda Turturro led the team with two first half tallies, including one off an assist from sophomore attacker Abbey Brooks. The remaining first half goals were thrown in by senior team captain midfielder Macy Scott, junior attacker Joanna Reilly and freshman midfielder Samantha Budd.
In the first 19 and a half minutes of the second half, the Knights and the Buckeyes combined for 5 more goals, with one more in Rutgers' favor, giving the Knights an 8-5 lead with a little over 10 minutes to play.
From then on, Rutgers went on a scoring spree, scoring 7 unanswered goals to close out the remainder of the game.
The run was started off by Paratore putting in her second goal of the game and the tenth of the season. Paratore adds six assists to her season so far, while having the fourth most points overall for the Knights with 16.
“I think we can only go up from here,” Paratore said. “We really showed what we can do, so we can just keep working hard, executing the plays and just doing what coach tells us to in practice.”
Among the 7 straight goals was a hat trick from senior midfielder Kristina Dunphey, who is now tied with Turturro with leading the team in points with 26, as well as sitting in second place in goals with 17 behind redshirt junior attacker Nicole Kopyta.
Dunphey collected her 100th career point less than two weeks ago against Manhattan and now has 108 and counting for her Scarlet Knight career, tied for 18th all-time.
Junior midfielder Sydney Quinn also scored during the streak, added to Scott and Budd’s to make it seven for Rutgers. Budd’s goal made it three and gave her the first hat trick of her career.
As for Niagara, they enter Tuesday’s contest with Rutgers coming off a win up in New Rochelle, New York, where they defeated Iona by a score of 11-9 this past Sunday.
After this matchup, Rutgers will host No. 7 Cornell on April 1 in Piscataway, New Jersey for their fourth ranked opponent matchup of the season.
Tuesday night will mark the first meeting ever between the Knights and Purple Eagles.
“We just gotta keep moving, keep grinding, keep practicing hard and it’ll all translate to the field,” Budd said.
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