Rutgers hits road against Cornell, Syracuse in hopes of remedying two straight losses
After two losses its last time out, the Rutgers field hockey team’s schedule does not get any easier when it faces two undefeated teams on the road.
The No. 24 Scarlet Knights (4-2) wrap up the main portion of their out-of-conference schedule this weekend when they play at Cornell (4-0) and No. 3 Syracuse (7-0, 1-0) this weekend.
Rutgers are coming off of the humbling experience of suffering its first two losses of the season to Princeton and St. Joseph’s last weekend. The consensus among players and coaches was that they needed to practice harder and get better in order to avoid another winless weekend.
“We have to find a way to be focused and implement what we’ve trained and implement adjustments game to game,” said head coach Meredith Civico. “It’s unfortunate, because I thought the team was doing a nice job of it up until last weekend.”
On Sunday, Cicivo outlined how the team would prepare, especially in the wake of its most recent performances.
“We’re going to focus on mentality and competing hard,” she said. “Winning every moment, tackle, 50-50 ball, and one (versus) one. If we can win those small moments and situations, that will make a big difference.”
Sophomore forward Nikki Santore added that the team needed to get better at offensive chances and would watch videos to help improve.
“If we do better throughout the field, the outcomes will come offensively,” she said.
The Knights' path to redemption starts on Friday at Cornell in Ithaca, New York. The Big Red are off to its best start since 2009, and are one of just four undefeated teams left in the country. Rutgers lead the overall series 6-3, and have won the last four matchups, including a 4-2 win in Piscataway last year.
The Big Red boast the reigning Ivy League Player of the Week in senior goalkeeper Kelly Johnson, who made a career-high 10 saves to help defeat then-No. 24 Maine on Sunday. She is the main reason why Cornell is second in the nation in goals-against-average (0.50), save percentage (.926) and shutouts per game (0.75).
“Cornell had a big win Sunday against Maine,” Civico said. “And we had a tough game against them last season. We have to understand that teams like St. Joe’s and Cornell want to beat Big Ten teams like us, and we’ve got to be extra focused and prepared when we play teams like that.”
While Cornell will undoubtedly be a hard opponent, Sunday’s matchup at Syracuse will be an even tougher challenge. The Orange are tenth in the nation with 3.43 goals per game and third with a 3.43 scoring margin. In fact, they have not allowed a single goal through seven games this season.
Freshman forward Carolin Hoffman is Syracuse’s offensive leader, having the most shots (21), goals (5) and points (11) on the team. Classmate Borg van der Velde is a stalwart in goal, saving nine shots in seven games and recording six shutouts.
The Knights will attempt to pull the upset with players such as Dutch freshman Daphne Groothuis, who leads the team with 6 goals. She had a limited impact last weekend, tallying just one shot on goal. She will need to have a good performance if Rutgers wants to win.
Freshman goalkeeper Gianna Glatz is another player looking for redemption after suffering the first two losses of her collegiate career. She discussed what she thought she and the team need to do this weekend to get back on track.
“We need to prove that we can fix our mistakes and beat a team that we know we can,” she said. “We need to show that on the field, and hold our ground. It’s difficult to know what we could have done last weekend, but it helps us move forward and get better.”
The Knights have shown that they can beat good opponents, as evidenced by their win over then-No. 23 Old Dominion two weeks ago. If they’re able to come away with positive results this weekend, then they should be ready for anything that their Big Ten foes throw their way.
“It’ll be a really tough weekend,” Glatz said. “But that’s where we need to prove ourselves.”
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