Rutgers wins 14-10 in 1st home game of season
Budd adds another 4 goals to resume
It may not have been as decisive as previous wins, but the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team managed to come away with a victory in its first home game of the season.
The Scarlet Knights (3-1) defeated Delaware (1-2) 14-10 at High Point Solutions Stadium on Saturday afternoon. It was a rather startling turnaround from Rutgers' 17-5 loss to the Blue Hens last year.
“Coach mentioned there were times last year where we would get down on ourselves and then stop,” said sophomore midfielder Samantha Budd. “The difference this year was that we had a couple of mistakes during the game, but we were able to bounce back and finish strong. It felt really good after the tough loss last year.”
After scoring a career-high 6 goals in last week’s win over Monmouth, Budd added 4 more against Delaware on Saturday.
Yet despite her recent offensive outburst, she was quick to credit her teammates for her success.
“All my goals were because of teamwork,” Budd said. “We’ve been moving the ball really fast and hitting our open looks, and it just happens to be me (who scores). Everyone’s been contributing, and we all work really well as a team.”
Senior attacker and captain Kerri Puckhaber also scored 4 goals, while senior midfielder Paige Paratore and junior attacker Dana Gisonno added 2 apiece.
Budd started off the game with a bang, getting a hat trick within the first 8 minutes of play. The Knights and Blue Hens kept exchanging goals to keep it a three-goal game, but Delaware scored in the waning seconds to cut the lead to two, and Rutgers headed into the locker room at halftime with an 8-6 lead.
Puckhaber scored her third goal of the afternoon soon after play resumed, and again the Blue Hens responded, this time scoring 2 straight goals to narrow the lead to a 1-goal affair. But after head coach Laura Brand Sias called timeout, Paratore and Puckhaber scored in quick succession.
“We were standing a lot on offense and we weren’t moving the ball quickly,” Sias said about calling the timeout. “We weren’t flowing well on attacks, so I challenged them to be more aggressive, play as a team and play with confidence. We were only up by a goal at that point, so I wanted to play like we were winning instead of being conservative.”
After a Delaware goal with 15:10 remaining, the Knights finished with a 3-1 run, finishing the game with what was tied for their largest lead of the day.
Sias said that there were differences between the first and second halves, but one of the biggest was winning the draw control battle.
After losing 8 of 9 battles in the first half, Rutgers won 11 of 18 in the second. Senior midfielder and captain Alanna Navaroli had a season-high 10 draw controls.
“We knew what we had to do, and we knew that Delaware was going to come out with a fire lit under their butts,” Navaroli said. “They were only down a few goals, so that motivated us to dominate them in the second half.”
After her 10 on Saturday, Navaroli is now second on the team in draw controls with 17, behind just Budd who leads with 23 so far on the season.
The Knights also benefited from a good mindset in addition to adjustments in their play.
“Coach said that attitude was going to win the game,” Budd said. “We had an attitude about everything we did, whether it was winning the draw, stopping them on defense or playing good attacks.”
Rutgers goes back on the road this week to play at No. 14 Penn on Wednesday.
A few days before the game, Sias said she expected it to be a hard-fought battle, and that’s exactly what it was. And while the Blue Hens did have the upper hand at points, it was the Knights who did the most to pull out the victory.
“The game didn’t go our way for the full 60 minutes, but we didn’t back down,” Sias said. "We were able to come out of those stretches and come back with our own positive stretches, and that’s always what you want to see.”
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