Rutgers looks for 1st Big Ten win of season over weekend
This weekend, the Rutgers field hockey team (6-1) will host a pair of Big Ten opponents in Piscataway, as it tries for its first conference win.
On Friday, the No. 9 Scarlet Knights (6-1, 0-1) will host Michigan State (4-5) at 3 p.m. Then, on Sunday, Rutgers hosts No. 33 Ohio State to kick off its first of four straight ranked games.
The Spartans have only played one common opponent as the Knights so far this season. Both Rutgers and Michigan State have played Michigan — both taking losses. The Spartans lost 4-0 in their season opener, while the Knights lost 3-1 last week in Ann Arbor.
Michigan State is led by true freshman Isa van der Weij, who hails from the Netherlands. She has 3 goals, two assists and eight points so far this season, leading her team in each of those categories. She also leads her team with 27 shots and 20 shots on goal.
Although no Big Ten game can be taken lightly, the matchup with the Spartans is a game Rutgers should win. With that win, the Knights would move to 7-1 on the season and 1-1 in the Big Ten.
Rutgers’ true test this weekend comes on Sunday, as the Buckeyes come to town for a 1 p.m. showdown. Each of their four losses have been one-score games.
Ohio State is led by a pair of scorers, Esther Clotet and Casey Cole, who each have 5 goals. Clotet leads the team in assists with three and points with 13.
The Knights are led by sophomore midfielder Daphne Groothuis, who leads the team in multiple categories. Groothuis leads the team in points (16), goals (5) and assists (six). Junior forward Austyn Cuneo trails closely behind in goals, having scored 4.
So far this season, a group of talented sophomores have really anchored this Rutgers team. Other than Groothuis these sophomores include forward Kassidy Shelter, midfielders Kerrie Burns and Gianna Mancini and goalkeeper Gianna Glatz.
As far as upperclassmen go, Cuneo has been the real stat-sheet stuffer with her nine points. Senior midfielder Linde van Schaik has also contributed a lot, tallying 2 goals, two assists and six points.
If the Knights can come out of this weekend 2-0, they will be 8-1 on the season and 2-1 in the Big Ten. That will be good enough for their best start in 10 years, dating back to 2008.
Looking past Michigan State and Ohio State, Rutgers will take on No. 14 Penn State and No. 17 Delaware next weekend, its second and third straight ranked games.
This part of the season is crucial to how it will end up finishing in the Big Ten, as well as in the national rankings, where it looks to best last year's finish of No. 23.
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