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Knights face familiar foes in home stand

<p>Senior midfielder Jenn Staab returns after missing time with a concussion.</p>

Senior midfielder Jenn Staab returns after missing time with a concussion.

The Rutgers field hockey team looks to continue its success this weekend as it takes on Temple on Friday at 3 p.m. and Lafayette on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Piscataway.

The Scarlet Knights (2-0) first take on an experienced team in Temple (2-0).

Last year, the Knights lost a disappointing game to then-No. 17 Temple, 2-1, and the year before they lost to Temple, 3-2, in overtime. 

Temple holds the series lead at 22-11-2 all time.

“Temple is always a battle for us,” said head coach Meredith Long. “It’s a physical game as well as an emotional game from our past matchups in the last two seasons. Our team is out for redemption.”

Temple spent last season ranked in the top 20 the last nine weeks of the season under the tutelage of head coach Amanda Janney, who enters her 10th season at the helm for the Owls. They recently took down No. 10 UMass last weekend.

“Temple is a very fast, high-tempo team,” Long said. “They have a solid attacking unit. They have key players like Amber Youtz who is a senior forward, as well as a solid goal keeper.” 

Amber Youtz leads her team with three goals and six points.

Lafayette is also 2-0, with one of those wins coming in their first game against No. 13 Boston College, an impressive way to start off the season.

Lafayette head coach Jennifer Stone enters her second year as head coach and looks to continue success with a team that has made the Patriot League Tournament plenty of times. 

Rutgers defeated Lafayette in last year’s game, 2-1, and hold the series lead at 19-15-1 all-time.

Something Rutgers may look to exploit going into each of its matchups is converting on corner set pieces as Temple has given up nine, while Lafayette has given up 12 in their first two games combined.

On the flip side, Rutgers is looking to deny those opportunities.

“We are looking to play a tight game defensively, really protect and deny circle entry and then take advantage of our attacking opportunities,” Long said.

Returning to game action for the Knights is senior captain midfielder, Jenn Staab.

“Jenn Staab is back from her concussion,” Long said. “She plays a huge role in the midfield as our defensive midfielder, as well as on set pieces.”

Staab should provide a stable midfield presence and help on defending or preventing set pieces. 

The Knights are also looking to stay organized and follow through on their game plan this weekend.

“We’ve been working on structure, individual defense, trying to keep things simple and stick to stick passing,” said senior forward Sophie Wright. 

Another focal point for Rutgers is the team’s communication out on the field.

“We’ve worked on communication,” said senior midfielder Jenn Staab. “Communication can always improve and it will help us to be ready to handle their speed.”

The Knights are not overlooking these weekend’s games as they understand that the two opponents at hand, Temple and Lafayette, are good teams that have gotten off to hot starts as well.

“We’re expecting physical games, a step up from last weekend,” Wright said. “It will be good and intense competition for us.”

For updates on the Rutgers field hockey team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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