Rutgers hopes for ranked victories over Penn State, Delaware
This weekend, the Rutgers field hockey team faces its biggest weekend of the season, so far. After going 1-1 last weekend to a pair of Big Ten opponents, the Scarlet Knights (7-2, 1-2) will play one home game and one away game this weekend.
The first game, on Friday, comes against Big Ten foe No. 7 Penn State (6-3) at home. So far this season, the Nittany Lions are 2-1 in the Big Ten.
Of its nine games, Penn State has four common opponents with Rutgers. The first common opponent (and only non-conference opponent) that both teams have played is Princeton. Earlier this month, the Lions suffered a 2-1 loss in double overtime to the Tigers.
But, the Knights took care of business against then-No. 6 Princeton back on Sept. 9, winning by a score of 1-0. The next three common opponents between Penn State and Rutgers are all Big Ten opponents.
Both the Lions and Knights have suffered a loss to Michigan. Both teams have also had convincing wins over Michigan State (8-0 win for Penn State, 5-1 win for Rutgers).
The difference in Big Ten conference records comes against Ohio State. The Lions beat the Buckeyes 3-2 back on Sept. 14, while the Knights lost in dramatic fashion last weekend, dropping the game to Ohio State 4-3 after double overtime and a shootout.
A win over Penn State would prove to the rest of the conference that Rutgers is the real deal in the Big Ten, capable of beating any of the top teams in the conference on any given day. It would also significantly help its national ranking, as it would be its second win over a top-10 program this season.
After the game Friday, the Knights will travel to Delaware to take on the Blue Hens. No. 19 Delaware (4-5) has two common opponents with Rutgers this season being the Tigers and Buckeyes.
The Blue Hens beat Ohio State 3-2 in their first game of the season. They then suffered a 4-2 loss to Princeton on Sept. 16.
This season, the Knights have been led by two players in particular. Sophomore midfielder Daphne Groothuis has been great all season, leading Rutgers in goals (6), assists (eight) and points (20). She is also first on the team in shots (34) and second in shots on goal (21).
Close behind Groothuis in every single statistical category has been junior forward Austyn Cuneo. Cuneo is second in goals (5), points (12) and shots (33). She leads the team in shots on goal (22), narrowly edging Groothuis.
Besides Groothuis and Cuneo, the Knights have a bevy of other players that are contributing. For example, there are four players tied for third in the team in goals with 3 apiece. Sophomore goalkeeper Gianna Glatz has been phenomenal as well, anchoring the defense with five shutouts this season.
This weekend will be a true test for this Rutgers team, as two wins would surely propel them in to the national spotlight as it would see a significant jump in the rankings heading into the final stretch of Big Ten games.
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