Rutgers wins first game of season at LIU Brooklyn
2 Knights secure hat tricks in win
To say that the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team bounced back from its season-opening loss is a pretty big understatement.
The Scarlet Knights (1-1) responded to their loss to Temple on Saturday by beating LIU Brooklyn (0-1) 15-4 on Tuesday afternoon.
“We definitely cleaned up our transition from playing Temple,” said freshman midfielder Taralyn Naslonski. “Although we only had one practice, we were able to change our mentality and (we) came out very strong.”
Rutgers used a balanced scoring attack in its win, as 10 different players scored at least 1 goal, bringing the total number of goal scorers through two games to 12. Even those who don’t usually score much put up prolific numbers, as there were two players who had their first hat tricks of their collegiate careers.
“That’s what you want to see,” said head coach Laura Brand Sias. “You don’t want (opponents) to be able to look at your stat sheet and say, ‘if we shut these one or two people down, we’re going to be successful.’ You want people to be able to step up when someone else is getting shut down ... we want success early so we can build off of that throughout the season.”
The adjustments the team made must have worked, because the Knights overpowered the Blackbirds in almost every aspect of the game. They outshot LIU Brooklyn 36-16, and caused them to force 25 turnovers.
Sias said the main difference between this game and the one against Temple was that the team shook off a lot of the first-game jitters from Saturday.
“It’s hard not to have a preseason scrimmage before you open (the season), so we definitely saw some of those first-game mistakes,” she said. “It gave us a chance to look at some of the things we need to tweak and do a better job at.”
Rutgers got off to a quick start in the first half, taking advantage of the Blackbird’s multiple turnovers to score 5 goals in the first 13 minutes. Senior attacker and captain Kerri Puckhaber got things started with the first goal, while senior midfielder Paige Paratore and fifth-year senior attacker Nicole Kopyta and Naslonski followed with goals soon after.
After LIU Brooklyn scored its first goal of the afternoon, sophomore attacker Emily Santana quickly negated it with a goal of her own, and Puckhaber added her second to take a 5-goal lead. Junior attacker Dana Gisonno then scored 2 straight goals to increase the lead even further.
The Blackbirds scored once more in the half, as the Knights headed into halftime with an 8-2 lead, equaling the number of goals they scored against Temple in one half.
Rutgers opened the second half with a bang, as Naslonski scored her second goal of the afternoon with just over a minute after the intermission. Following another LIU Brooklyn goal, sophomore midfielder Samantha Budd got her first score of the game and the Knights’ 10th overall.
Naslonski continued the barrage soon after, achieving her first collegiate hat trick in just her second game. Despite the milestone, Naslonski was quick to credit her teammates for assisting her to reach it.
“It helped to know that my team was there, all working together,” she said. “Kerri and Abbey were definitely able to help with team chemistry today.”
Goals by junior attacker Abbey Brooks and freshman midfielder Julia Lytle — it being the latter's first of her collegiate career — increased the lead to 10. After another Blackbird goal, junior midfielder Allie Ferrara added one more, and Gisonno scored her third, joining Naslonski with her first career hat trick.
“It’s a big career milestone for me,” Gisonno said. “Now I know what I can accomplish throughout the season to prepare myself and my team for each competition.”
The defense also shined for Rutgers, as it forced 19 ground balls, including six by junior defender Regina Sharp, a career high. Sharp also forced four turnovers, another career high.
Junior goalkeeper Devon Kearns earned the win in goal, recording five saves in the first half. Senior goalkeeper Bianca Dente replaced her in the second half and recorded two saves.
The Knights return to action this Saturday at Monmouth.
“Overall, from top to bottom, it was a solid day,” Sias said.
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