No. 14 Rutgers passes 10 wins for 1st time since 2008
For the first time since 2008, the Rutgers field hockey team has won 10 games in a season. And, after this 2-0 weekend, it currently has 11 wins on the season.
The No. 14 Scarlet Knights (11-4, 3-4), have two games remaining of their season before the Big Ten Tournament and maybe even the NCAA Tournament.
This past weekend started with one of the biggest games of the season, squaring off against No. 15 Northwestern in Evanston, Ill. The Wildcats (8-8, 3-4) beat Rutgers twice last year, with one of those losses ending the Knights’ season in the Big Ten Tournament.
This time things ended differently. Rutgers came away with a 2-1 victory after scoring 2 goals within the first 20 minutes of the game.
Senior backfielder Linde van Schaik got on the scoreboard first for the Knights around the 8-minute mark. Rutgers was able to capitalize off of a penalty corner for the score.
After its initial two shots on net were stopped, van Schaik was able to scoop one up and over the goalkeeper to put the Knights ahead 1-0.
Van Schaik’s goal was her 7th of the season and 24th of her career. She currently resides with 65 career points, an impressive career here on the Banks.
In the 20th minute of the game, who else but sophomore midfielder Daphne Groothuis scored her team-leading 9th goal of the season. Groothuis intercepted an errant Northwestern pass, dribbled around defenders before firing off a shot that found the back of the box.
The Wildcats would score their only goal of the game at the 23-minute mark. In the second half of play, Rutgers staved off five penalty corners from Northwestern en route to victory.
The win gave head coach Meredith Civico her first 10-win season since taking over as coach of the Knights seven years ago. It was also Rutgers’ first-ever win over the Wildcats in program history.
"I'm so proud of the effort our team put forth today. We played front foot hockey for the first half and took our chances. But Northwestern is a very good team and we knew they would come out hard in the second half,” Civico said. “It was a battle but we held strong and our defensive corner unit was outstanding when it mattered."
After the huge win on Friday, the Knights traveled from Illinois to Indiana to take on the Hoosiers (4-11, 1-6). The result was a decisive 4-0 Rutgers victory that saw 2 goals from Groothuis and 2 goals from senior midfielder Nikki Profita.
With the 2 goals, Groothuis extended her goal total to 11 on the season, while also tallying 33 points. She now holds possession of seventh all-time for points in a season for the Knights.
Coming into this season with no career goals, Profita has had an impressive senior season, scoring 7 goals thus far. She also has two multi-goal games this season.
The win also gave Rutgers its seventh shutout of the season, which is tied for the national lead. The Knights now have three Big Ten wins, tying last season's conference win total.
"Today our focus was to just move the ball and play two-touch as much as possible. We knew we needed to try and open up the field. I thought the team did an excellent job executing the game plan. There were some excellent individual performances, as well,” Civico said. "This team has done a great job staying focused on just one game at a time. We just stayed disciplined and executed the game plan. I thought they did an excellent job today."
With a mere two games remaining on the schedule for Rutgers, it has a chance to win 13 games, as well as pick up another ranked Big Ten win on the season against No. 8 Iowa on Friday.
The team will finish its season at home against American on Sunday for senior day.
“We need to just stay focused and present in the moment, heading into the last weekend and then the Big Ten Tournament. I'm just really excited about the way the team is playing right now,” Civico said.
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