In first weekend as ranked team, No. 22 Rutgers loses two straight games
On paper, the Rutgers field hockey team had a pretty rough weekend, losing its first two games after a 4-0 start. In reality, it was an important wake-up call that showed how it can perform better for the rest of the season.
The No. 22 Scarlet Knights (4-2) dropped games to No. 12 Princeton (1-3) and St. Joseph’s (4-2) this weekend, unable to take advantage of some golden opportunities to claim victory.
“We had a lot of opportunities and we didn’t execute on them,” said freshman goalkeeper Gianna Glatz. “Going forward we need to create our own looks and play to win, not just play the game that’s in front of us.”
Rutgers found out quickly on Friday that they could not keep up with Princeton, losing 4-1. The Tigers scored two goals in the first half for an early advantage, and kept the pressure on with two in the second. Sophomore forward Nikki Santore scored the lone goal for the Knights.
“Princeton came out and played really fast, and it took us a while to match that tempo,” said head coach Meredith Civico. “They did a nice job taking advantage of that early on … we struggle when we play a team that likes to go fast and we play into that style. We have to recognize that doesn’t work for us.”
Hoping to rebound two days later, the Knights instead lost to St. Joseph’s 3-1 in a game where they could not find their rhythm.
Rutgers once again found itself down early thanks to a seventh-minute goal from Anna Willocks, but sophomore midfielder Katie Larmour scored her first goal of the season five minutes later to tie the game up.
St. Joe’s regained the lead in the 51st minute on a Quinn Maguire goal that would end up being the difference. The Knights tried to tie the game up, but all five of their shots were unable to find the goal. The Hawks ended their comeback hopes with an empty-net goal in the final seconds.
“I didn’t feel like we were ready to play today,” Civico said. “St. Joe’s wanted the game, and they played harder than we did. We didn’t make the adjustments that we knew we had to make. Coming off of a few games where we were having some success, we might have underestimated our opponent a little bit.”
Another weakness the team had over the weekend, as Glatz pointed out, was that it was unable to hold its ground on defense. Both Princeton and St. Joseph’s were patient and waited for good shots on goal, which put Rutgers at a disadvantage.
Still, the Knights did not end the weekend without any positives. Civico cited the play of some of her true freshmen and the fact that the team does indeed recognize their strengths, even if it has to hone them more during practice.
“If we play to our strength as a team, we’ll get results,” she said “We’ve got a lot of youth on this squad, and we need to understand how we need to prepare, especially for road games. We’ll take a lot from these two losses. We got them out of the way early, and I think that will help us prepare as we move into Big Ten play.”
The Knights play two more road games next weekend at Cornell and Syracuse before returning home for their first Big Ten games.
Despite the two losses, there is a sense of optimism among Rutgers. This weekend brought them back down to size and made them realize just what they have to do in order to avoid another setback like this.
“Nobody was satisfied with our performance,” Civico said. “The team looked at both games and felt like it wasn’t their best, and that’s the response you want as a coach. They were mad and knew they had much better hockey in them. I like the response that they’re giving and I like the mindset going forward.”
And if the reaction from the players is any indication, the Knights have the drive and the will to avoid a repeat performance.
“It’s a learning experience," Santore said. "We’re unhappy going 0-2, and we’re never going to go 0-2 again.”
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