Rutgers starts off season 3-0, gain No. 23 ranking
In its first game of the season, the Rutgers field hockey team took care of business against Richmond, winning the season opener 3-0. Sophomore midfielder Daphne Groothuis scored a goal and chipped in with an assist as well.
After their decisive first victory, the Scarlet Knights (3-0) took on Hofstra in their second game and proceeded to crush them 8-0. Junior forwards Alanna Gollotto and Austyn Cuneo each had 2 goals in the game, while Groothuis also had 1 goal and three assists in the blowout.
Starting the season 2-0, Rutgers went in to last Sunday’s game against No. 18 St. Joseph’s with plenty of momentum. The unranked Knights looked to avenge last seasons 3-1 loss.
And that momentum paid off, as the result was a hard fought 3-2 victory in front of a home crowd on a sweltering day in Piscataway.
“This was a really good win," said head coach Meredith Civico. "We knew that St. Joe's was going to be the hardest test that we had faced so far. They are a really good team with some really good players. We knew this would require a big mental and physical effort. I thought the team played really well as a team today."
Rutgers got on the scoreboard first, with 1 goal from senior midfielder Linde van Schaik off of a corner. It was van Schaik’s 18th career goal and first of the season. The goal was assisted by Groothuis.
The Knights took the slim 1-0 lead in to halftime, before the Hawks tied it up at 1 goal apiece off of a corner that came 14 minutes into the second half.
Now tied at 1-1, Rutgers was determined to retake the lead. Groothuis added to her assist earlier in the game by scoring the go-ahead goal a mere 66 seconds after St. Joseph's had tied it. She ended the game with three shots on goal, two assists and 1 goal.
With the Knights holding a 2-1 lead, the 35-minute half ticked down to just 15 minutes remaining. That’s when the Hawks re-tied the score, with a goal from Emily Henry.
As the scoreboard showed just 10 minutes remaining, senior midfielder and vice-captain Nikki Profita took a rebound from a saved shot and smashed it into the back of the box.
The goal would be the last of the game, giving Rutgers the 3-2 upset victory over St. Joseph's. It was also Profita’s first career goal, one she will certainly not forget soon.
"This was a huge win for us today. This team this year is so different and winning this game really proves that. Since last November, we knew that we wanted to make a bigger impact," Profita said, according to the scarletknights website. “This is one of the games that we happened to lose last year. We knew this year this was one we really wanted to win. And I think the way we won it was such a big step forward and something we took a lot of pride in."
After the win, the Knights received very encouraging news as the week began, as Rutgers was named the No. 23 ranked team in the country by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA).
The Knights will look to continue their hot streak, as they have two more home games in the coming week. Rutgers will take on a pair of Ivy League opponents, first against Cornell on Friday and then against in-state rival and ranked opponent, No. 10 Princeton on Sunday.
The Knights haven't started a season 5-0 since the 2008 season, where they started 6-0 en route to a 14-6 overall record.
"Our team was right back at it after the goals they conceded, and that's the mentality it takes to win,” Civico said.
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