No. 21 Rutgers outscored 10-1 in losses to No. 6 Penn State, No. 12 Maryland over weekend
The Rutgers field hockey team headed into the final weekend of the regular season hoping to make a statement against two ranked teams before the Big Ten Tournament. Instead, it fell flat.
The No. 21 Scarlet Knights (9-8, 3-5) lost at No. 6 Penn State (14-3, 6-2) 4-1 on Friday before suffering their worst loss of a season with a 6-0 home defeat against No. 12 Maryland (12-5, 6-2) on Sunday.
The Knights got off to a strong start against Penn State, striking first with a goal from sophomore Nikki Santore in the 15th minute, and holding the slim lead throughout the first half despite being outshot 6-2.
“We started off really strong, and that goal led us to keep passing,” Santore said. "Everything was so clean.”
The Nittany Lions came out after the break with 3 goals in the first 10 minutes, 2 from their leading scorer Moira Putsch, and Rutgers was unable to respond. Putsch added her third goal of the game in the 55th minute.
Penn State outshot Rutgers 15-5 and had an 8-1 edge in penalty corners. Freshman goalkeeper Gianna Glatz had five saves for the Knights.
“(In the second half) we just lost focus on the things we were doing really well in the first half,” said head coach Meredith Civico. “Penn State came out after halftime with another level of energy, and we didn’t match it. We basically allowed the same goal three teams, and there was a lack of focus and positional play.”
Rutgers then had a chance to go home and rebound against Maryland on Senior Day, where the team honored its graduating seniors. There were pregame ceremonies as the seniors came out onto the field with their family and friends.
The Terrapins spoiled the day, though, with an onslaught of goals that started in the first ten minutes. By the end of the first half, it was 3-0.
“Maryland’s conversion rate in the first half was 50 percent, which tells us that there’s definitely a problem in our backfield in our defensive circle,” Civico said.
Maryland did not stop after the intermission, scoring 3 more goals, and ended the day with the most goals scored against the Knights this season. The Terps outshot Rutgers 17-5 and 13-1 when it came to shots on goal. Melissa Wilken and Madison Maguire both recorded hat tricks.
Glatz recorded seven saves, but as Civico noted, the defense was not there to back her up.
“Gianna gave us a tremendous effort, and we weren’t strong and solid in front of her,” she said. “We weren’t picking up our players. We spoke about it at halftime, but we didn’t make the adjustments.”
It was a bittersweet ending to Senior Day for the honorees, including co-captain Haley Meade, who, like the rest of her fellow upperclassmen, knows that every game from here on out could be their last and hope to improve in order to avoid that scenario as soon as next weekend.
The fifth seed in the Big Ten Tournament, Rutgers will play at fourth-seeded Northwestern — who is also the No. 8 team in the country — on Sunday.
Overall, the Knights’ regular season was a mixed bag, due in part to the multitude of freshman who needed time to adjust to the collegiate level.
“This was a young team, and we knew there would be a steep learning curve,” Civico said. “We didn’t necessarily have experience on the field, but they’ve got a very a strong bond off the field. Where we struggled was with the hockey and in pressure situations against quality opponents, and for a majority of the team it was their first experience against Big Ten opponents. But I’m proud of how they have been able to grow.”
And despite the unfavorable results this weekend, the team has a chance to erase it with a deep run in the tournament.
“It’s been a great season,” Meade said. “There have been ups and downs, but it’s been a lot of fun … it stinks right now that we’re at a low point, but I hope that we can finish on a high note.”
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