June 26, 2019 | 82° F

Rutgers to host Michigan on Thursday

Photo by Garrett Steffe |

The Rutgers women’s lacrosse team prepares to host Michigan on Thursday for its most important Big Ten game of the season.

The Scarlet Knights (6-8, 0-3) have to beat the Wolverines (5-9, 1-3) to have a chance to compete in the Big Ten Tournament. Rutgers has yet to win a conference game, but when it hosts the Wolverines, it will be the best shot at getting its first.

The Knights currently lead the series with the Wolverines, 3-0. Rutgers won 16-14 last year when it traveled to Ann Arbor behind hat tricks from sophomore midfielder Samantha Budd and fifth-year senior attacker Nicole Kopyta. 

The Knights have a definitive home-field advantage playing at High Point Solution Stadium, where they are 4-2 on the season. They have won their last two games at home against Lafayette and Niagara, and plan to keep using the advantage coming down the stretch of the season.

Michigan is led by junior attacker Adriana Pendino, who has scored 30 goals on 75 shots this season. She has nine multi-goal games, leading her team with a balanced attack. 

The Wolverines play with a tough defense, similar to Rutgers, and rely upon their goalkeepers to keep them in the games. 

Junior goalkeeper Mira Shane leads the Wolverines in saves and minutes played. She allows on average 11.56 goals per game, which will present the Knights with a tough challenge.

Rutgers will be hoping senior midfielder Paige Paratore keeps playing her best this remaining stretch of the season. She has been one of the most reliable players on the Knights roster, having a team high nine multi-goal games this season — including her last five contests.

Rutgers now has four players who have scored more than 30 points on the season, and it will continue to play an even attack spread out among all its offensive players. 

The Knights are currently led by senior attacker Kerri Puckhaber, who has the third most goals and second most assists on the team. She is the focal point of their quick attacks, and they will continue to base their attack off of Puckhaber. 

On the defensive side of the ball, junior goalkeeper Devon Kearns has continued to dominate the minutes inside the cage for the Rutgers and has done well for the season. Kearns has played more than 660 minutes on the season, appearing in every game, with a goal average of 12.44 goals per game. 

She can thank her backline for making her job easier, like junior defender Regina Sharp and senior defender Amanda Casten. Sharp and Casten are No. 1 and 2 in most defensive categories, and have been the leaders for the defense all season long.

For updates on the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

Scott Brennan

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