Rutgers to play 1st home game of season
Knights host Delaware at High Point Solutions Stadium
Following a three-game road trip to open the season, the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team finally returns home and hopes to give its home fans something to cheer about.
The Scarlet Knights (2-1) face Delaware (1-1) at High Point Solutions Stadium this weekend, looking for their third straight win. The game is part of a doubleheader with the men’s lacrosse team, who plays Fairfield earlier in the day.
For midfielder Taralyn Naslonski and her fellow freshmen, this will be the first time playing in front of the Rutgers home crowd, and she can’t wait to finally experience it.
“I’m definitely excited to walk down the tunnel and out onto our home field,” Naslonski said. “All the upperclassmen keep talking about how exciting home games are, so I’m really looking forward to experiencing the hype and everything it has to offer.”
The Knights enjoyed great success last week, beating LIU Brooklyn and Monmouth by a combined score of 34-12. They saw Naslonski and junior attacker Dana Gisonno achieve the first hat tricks of their collegiate careers as well as sophomore midfielder Samantha Budd scoring a whopping 6 goals in one game.
After playing its first three games on the road, Rutgers had an entire week at home to practice without playing at all, which allowed players to get some added rest, as well as more training time.
“It’s definitely a week that we needed,” said head coach Laura Brand Sias. “After having three games in eight days, we were a little broken down physically, so it’s always nice to have that physical and mental break. We were able to give them a couple days off and still have time to get stuff done this week.”
Due to their play, the Knights had two players recognized by the Big Ten last week. Naslonski won Freshman of the Week, while junior Regina Sharp won Defensive Player of the Week.
Sias praised the girls' hard work so far in the season, saying the recognition by the conference was well deserved.
“Both players have brought a commitment and consistent work ethic to practice every day and it is certainly paying off," Sias said. "Last year we didn’t get any individual honors, so it’s nice to have players recognized for their play.”
Last season was an up-and-down affair for the team, ending the season at 8-8 and 2-4 in the Big Ten.
Naslonski earned the honor by scoring 4 goals and totaling 6 points in two games, and said that it was more important that multiple players on the team got recognition than just her.
“Lacrosse is a team sport, and while it’s really awesome to be recognized individually, it’s better to know that our whole team in being recognized,” she said. “We owe it to the support of our coaches who help us get better every day.”
On the other side of the field, Sharp caused four turnovers and collected six ground balls against LIU Brooklyn last Tuesday, both of which were career highs. She added three more ground balls against Monmouth four days later.
While Rutgers is known for its ability to spread out the scoring in any given game, the Blue Hens are no slouch either. In its recent win against La Salle, Delaware got hat tricks from four different players. It has seven goal scorers through two games, including six with 3 or more goals.
The Blue Hens return their top scorer from last year, senior Becky Gosher, who scored 36 goals in 2017. And while she has yet to score this season, Sias said that she attracts defenders, which causes other players to score instead.
“A lot of defenses are keyed in on her, which allows other players to step up and produce,” Sias said. “We’re definitely going to make sure that we’re strategizing and keying in on people we think will have the biggest impact.”
The Knights lost 17-5 to Delaware last year, so they’re definitely looking for a better result this time around. While their game last year was on the road, a home crowd could be just the right thing to give them the extra boost.
Rutgers will kick things off at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
“It’s going to be a good atmosphere for New Jersey lacrosse, and we’ll look to feed off that energy and have a great day,” Sias said.
For updates on the Rutgers women's lacrosse team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.