Rutgers splits upstate New York series with win at Cornell, defeat at No. 3 Syracuse
The Rutgers field hockey team had one more shot to impress in what might have been its toughest challenge yet, and with Big Ten foes looming on the schedule, the heat is on. Playing two teams that were both undefeated heading into the weekend was definitely a tall order, but head coach Meredith Civico knew that her team would be up to the task.
“Playing teams like Princeton last week and Syracuse this week, who have both won national championships recently, has helped us see what it takes to get to the next level,” she said.
The No. 24 Scarlet Knights (5-2) split their two games this weekend, beating Cornell (4-1) on Friday before falling to No. 3 Syracuse (8-1, 1-1) on Sunday.
Rutgers beat Cornell 2-1 on Friday, snapping its two-game losing streak. Junior midfielder Linde van Schaik provided the offense with 2 goals in the first half.
The Big Red cut the lead in half with a second half goal, but the Knights defense held strong, not allowing Cornell to get another shot off for the rest of the game.
“It was a must-win game for us,” said Civico. “We went into that match with that in mind, that there was no way we were walking off that field without a result. Some of the key players did a great job managing the game.”
Van Schaik’s 2 goals brought her total to 5 on the season, pulling her to second on the team behind fellow Dutch native Daphne Groothuis. She discussed how she was able to find success thanks to her teammates.
“We really pressured them hard, especially in the corner,” she said. “We were very quick, we saw the corner was open, and then I was able to score. And the other goal was on a great pass from Katie Larmour, which allowed me to score.”
Freshman goalkeeper Gianna Glatz had one save, and earned her fifth collegiate win. She praised her defense that helped keep Cornell from getting offensive chances.
“Our communication was better in the back, and that’s why we succeeded,” she said. “We commanded in the circle and we knew what we had to do.”
Rutgers then fell to Syracuse 4-0 on Sunday. It was the first time since last season’s opener at Bucknell that they were shut out, and was the eighth time in nine games this season that Syracuse allowed no goals.
The Orange started the scoring early with a goal from Roos Weers three minutes into the game. The score remained 1-0 until Jennifer Bleakney and Sarah Luby added goals at the end of the first half to push the Knights' deficit to three.
Rutgers could not cut into Syracuse’s lead once the second half began, and by the time the Orange scored an empty net goal in the final minutes, it was too late.
Civico lamented her team’s lack of execution, especially on penalty corners. Despite the score, the Knights had nine shots to Syracuse’s 11, and had six penalty corners to the Orange’s five.
“We weren’t able to take advantage of the opportunities that we were able to create,” Civico said. “Syracuse was much quicker and physical, and wanted to win more. We had about 20 minutes of dominant hockey when we were on the attack, and we have to put together an entire game against a top-level opponent. We’ll take a lot from this game, especially moving into Big Ten play.”
Like their loss to Princeton, Sunday’s game was marked by an inability to keep up with Syracuse’s fast style of play. As the player who saw it all from the goal, Glatz said that Rutgers needed to have a faster mindset and play smarter, and they could have gotten ahead.
There were still bright spots despite the loss. Civico highlighted some freshmen who saw playing time due to injuries elsewhere, including Kerrie Burns, who made her first career defensive save in the second half. Burns made a diving stop just as the ball was about to go in the net, saving what would have been a sure goal.
“We switched up some of the players positionally to play to certain players' strengths,” Civico said. “Kerrie had two excellent games this weekend, and she’s a freshman stepping in. I also think Austyn Cuneo is stepping up in that fullback role as well. We’re beginning to play to our strengths both individually and as a team.”
Rutgers returns home for its first Big Ten games against Indiana on Friday and Iowa on Sunday.
The Knights did have some shortcomings this past weekend, but after going winless last weekend, they did enough to ensure that it didn’t happen again.
“It wasn’t our best weekend,” van Schaik said. “But I think we learned a lot.”
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