April 24, 2019 | 63° F

Rutgers once again on road to face No. 12 Princeton, St. Joe's

After a successful weekend, the Rutgers field hockey team is back in action and looking for more top-notch results.

The No. 22 Scarlet Knights (4-0) have two more road games on their slate this weekend, facing in-state rival No. 12 Princeton (0-2) on Friday and St. Joseph’s (3-1) in Philadelphia on Sunday.

Head coach Meredith Civico pointed out that she planned the schedule a certain way to allow her team to face better opponents each week.

“This weekend’s going to be tougher than last weekend,” she said. “We scheduled so that every game and every week gets progressively more challenging as we go into Big Ten play.”

Rutgers achieved a big milestone on Tuesday, garnering a No. 22 ranking from the National Field Hockey Coaches Association. It was the first time since 2008 that it cracked the top-25. The Knights earned their ranking, as they are fourth in the nation in goals per game (4.75) and second in average scoring margin (4.25).

Despite its winless record, Princeton is also deserving of its ranking, losing two close games to two of the top three teams in the country. They dropped a tightly fought 2-0 contest to No. 1 North Carolina, and suffered a 5-3 loss to No. 3 Delaware in a rematch of last year’s national semifinal.

“They went to (the) final four last season and they have some really quality individual players,” Civico said.

The Tigers currently have junior Julianna Tornetta leading them with 2 goals and sophomore goalkeeper Grace Baylis has saved seven of 15 shots for a save percentage of .533.

St. Joseph’s is in a similar situation to Princeton, suffering a close loss against a top opponent. It fell to No. 6 Maryland 2-1 on a goal with just over four minutes remaining in the game. Other than that, the Hawks have impressed, edging out close victories against fellow Philadelphia schools Temple, Drexel and Villanova.

The Hawks’ offensive leaders are freshmen Quinn Maguire and Emily Henry, who are tied for the most goals on the team with 3 each, while junior Anna Willocks has the most points on the team with seven. Sophomore Victoria Kammerinke has a .789 save percentage in goal, saving 15 out of 19 shots.

“St. Joe’s is a team that’s on the rise,” Civico said. “They’ve got a couple of really good players, and they should be a challenging opponent.”

Leading Rutgers is two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week Daphne Groothuis, who is first on the team with 6 goals and 15 points. Her 1.5 goals per game are tied for the third-best mark in the country. Because of this, she said that she wouldn’t change much when it came to practicing for the upcoming games.

“We’ve been training really hard, so I don’t think we should change anything,” she said. “It’s about improving ourselves and being better than yesterday.”

Fellow freshman Gianna Glatz has gotten off to an equally fast start in goal, recording 17 saves. Her save percentage of .895 is best among all Big Ten goalkeepers.

Despite Glatz’s freshman status, Civico said that she plays like someone with a lot more experience.

“She’s a freshman, but you’d never know it,” she said. “Her approach to training and field hockey game to game is so consistent. She’s confident and I have a lot of confidence in her in that position. She’s a freshman but she doesn’t play like a freshman, and that’s probably one of the best qualities about her.”

One of the issues that the Knights faced last weekend was their tendency to start slow. They scored just one first-half goal over the two games, in contrast with the five they scored in the second half.

“We need to be more confident in ourselves going into the first half and not just rely on our second-half abilities,” said Glatz. “We need to show that we have that swagger and edge, and we need it early instead of waiting until later to clinch the win.”

Starting off games strong will be key to winning this weekend, and if Rutgers accomplishes that, the team should be able to claim victory against two tough foes.

“These next two opponents will be challenging,” Civico said. "But I know this team will be up for the opportunity.”

For updates on the Rutgers field hockey team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

Jordan Farbowitz

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