Rutgers falls in Big Ten opener to No. 17 Penn State
The Rutgers women’s lacrosse team hosted No. 17 Penn State (6-3) on Saturday in its Big Ten season opener, but couldn't get things started well and stumbled to an 18-13 loss.
The Scarlet Knights (4-5) started the game slow, scoring just 1 of the first 6 goals. They continued to struggle, ending the first half with a 10-3 deficit.
Rutgers won a more evenly contested second half, winning it 10-8. It ended the game on a 3-goal run to close the gap to 18-13.
The Knights top scorers for the afternoon were senior captain and attacker Kerri Puckhaber and freshman midfielder Taralyn Naslonski, who both scored hat tricks.
Puckhaber scored her first goal of the afternoon to stop a Nittany Lions run in the first half, which led to Rutgers closing the lead to 5-3. She ended the game with the 3 goals and two assists, propelling the Knights to close the score against a tough opponent.
Naslonski came off the bench to score all her goals in the second half, trying to lead her team to a comeback. She had the most efficient game for Rutgers, scoring her 3 goals on only four shots. This outing tied her career high with 3 goals and her one assist.
The Knights split time in between their goalies, with junior goalkeeper Devon Kearns starting and senior goalkeeper Bianca Dente closing the match.
Neither could stop Penn State's high scoring attack, though, as they allowed 18 goals combined. The goalkeepers had a combined 10 saves, seven in the first half and three in the second half.
Senior midfielder Paige Paratore led Rutgers with six draw controls, which highlighted its second-half burst. The team as a whole played better in the second half, where it beat the Lions in every statistical category.
The Knights ended the game with more shots than Penn State, but their quality of shots were not good enough.
Each team had an equal amount of saves and turnovers, which indicates toward a closely contested game — but the key difference was the first half shots on goal, when the Lions outshot Rutgers 17-10. The disparity between quality shots separated the team from the competition.
Overall, the first half performance was not the Knights' best, but they showed their team’s grittiness to battle back and make the ending compelling.
Rutgers returns to action Thursday when it travels to Ohio State for its second Big Ten match of the year.
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