Rutgers powers past Niagara in midweek matchup
Coming into Tuesday night’s game a winner of four of its last five games, the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team continued its hot play in its second straight home game.
The Scarlet Knights (7-4, 1-1) crushed Niagara (4-5) in one of Rutgers’ best games of the season, as it put up a season-high 18 goals in an impressive effort on a rainy evening.
“They gave us a couple of different looks tonight,” said head coach Laura Brand-Sias. “In the beginning of the game, we were doing a good job with our dodges. We were able to break their perimeter and get some good goals early on. After that, they went into a backer for a little bit, so we were having to pass the ball more, which on a rainy night can be a little bit difficult, but we still found a way to get it done.”
Rutgers meant business early, striking first just 64 seconds into play and not stopping, as the Knights scored 5 straight goals to start things off on their home field.
They saw their hot start kicked off by senior midfielder Kristina Dunphey, who came down the middle of the lane and swung the ball into the net.
Senior team captain midfielder Macy Scott, sophomore attacker Abbey Brooks, junior attacker Joanna Reilly and junior midfielder Paige Paratore each scored a goal for Rutgers to cap its 5-0 start to the game with 18:42 to play in the half.
“I think it was a good win,” Brooks said. “Coming off Ohio State we had a lot of energy, we connected a lot and were really strong.”
Niagara finally responded after nearly 12 minutes of unanswered play with a goal less than a minute later, and one more after that to make it two straight for the Purple Eagles, but there was still a 5-2 lead for the Knights with 15:56 left in the half.
Redshirt junior attacker Nicole Kopyta helped Rutgers regain its 4-goal cushion by catching a pass from junior midfielder Sydney Quinn, swinging it over her shoulder with just one hand on the stick and into the goal.
Niagara converted its third and fourth goals of the game, but the Knights squeezed a goal of their own in between after Quinn scored off Turturro’s second assist of the game. Rutgers was up 7-4 with 4:55 to play in the first half.
With one player out because of a penalty, the Knights still managed to score shorthanded, as Turturro dished out her third assist of the game to junior attacker Kerri Puckhaber.
Freshman midfielder Samantha Budd scored off a Brooks pass and Puckhaber added another goal to take the Knights into the locker room with a 10-4 lead.
“I’ve been working on my dodging and keeping my head up for feeds, being quick in the middle, faking and shooting,” Puckhaber said. “I think we came out pretty slow in the beginning of the game, but during halftime we adjusted to their D and we came out with a big win.”
The Knights started up right where they left off, scoring 4 straight goals and taking a 10-goal lead over the Purple Eagles. Kopyta, Dunphey and senior attacker Kelsey Cuje added the 4 straight goals for Rutgers, with the 2 from Dunphey giving her a second straight hat trick.
Niagara cut off the streak at 4, but couldn’t gain momentum as the teams went back and forth on goals, resulting in a 17-7 score with 6:25 on the clock. Brooks scored 2 of the goals for Rutgers, which gave her the first hat trick of her season.
“It felt good, I think I was just in the right place at the right time. I connected well with my teammates and I was able to finish,” Brooks said.
Scott put up the final goal of the game, as the Knights took out the Purple Eagles 18-8, tying their largest win margin of the season at 10.
Rutgers can now look forward to this weekend’s game against No. 10 Cornell (6-1, 3-0) on Saturday at High Point Solutions Stadium.
“Overall, we got the job done, so we are going to be happy with that,” Brand-Sias said.
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