Rutgers falls short in Big Ten matches
Two more games against ranked opponents resulted in and two more closely contested losses for the Rutgers field hockey team. This time it came at the hands of the No. 13 Northwestern Wildcats (8-3) Friday and the No. 14 Michigan Wolverines (7-3) Sunday.
The Scarlet Knights (4-5, 0-3) have now lost three games this season to ranked opponents by one goal, two of them in overtime.
“We can take this week as something to learn from,” said sophomore midfielder Elyse Broderick. “We improved a lot and it taught us what we need to work on, which are the little things and executing them.”
Rutgers and Northwestern played a very tightly defended game, ending 1-0.
Northwestern was able to capitalize off a penalty corner in the 14th minute of overtime to earn the victory. Forward Isabel Flens scored her team-leading eighth goal.
It was much of the same narrative for Rutgers. Last week against Iowa, the Knights weren’t able to generate much on offense.
They were only able to muster two shots on goal — both by junior forward Katie Champion — for the entire game.
“We are creating chances,” said head coach Meredith Long. “We have to execute better in the circle and under pressure. We had the chances, but we just couldn’t get there. Our connections upfront haven’t been there.”
In order to make up for injuries to the defense, the Knights have adjusted some players’ positions.
“Honestly, we’ve been playing really well,” Broderick said. “Without [Sophia] Walia, we’ve made the adjustments like moving Jenn [Staab] to the back three. It’s a great depiction of how well we can move players around and still be productive. We gave up a lot of corners [this weekend], but were able to keep the ball out of the circle a lot.”
The Knights then turned their attention to No. 14 Michigan on Sunday. The Wolverines took the early lead in the game with a goal by Carly Bennett after just six minutes.
Rutgers was able to fight back and score a goal off a corner thanks to Sophie Wright putting it in the net, tying the game at one going into the half.
Come the second half, Michigan was able to break down the Rutgers defense and Eliza Stein was able to take advantage scoring the goal, putting the Wolverines up 2-1 and securing the victory.
Rutgers had its opportunities throughout the game, playing with multiple player advantages at points.
“In the end, when you’re playing really good competition, one mistake can make it or break it,” Long said. “Michigan was able to capitalize on an opportunity. However, our team is playing great hockey, we feel confident that we are where we need to be and we will be back in Michigan in November [for the Big Ten Championships].”
Two hard losses like this sometimes get to a team, but Long doesn’t believe it will happen with her team.
“They know that they played well and are taking a lot of confidence in that,” Long said. “They have really good perspective as a group of what worked and didn’t work and they understand what we have to work on and get better. They must do it consistently.”
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