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Rutgers falls short against No. 6 Northwestern, second consecutive upset win

<p>Senior captain Alyssa Bull gathers the ball in Rutgers' 5-3 loss to No. 6 Northwestern at the Bauer Track and Field/Field Hockey Complex Friday.</p>

Senior captain Alyssa Bull gathers the ball in Rutgers' 5-3 loss to No. 6 Northwestern at the Bauer Track and Field/Field Hockey Complex Friday.

When the Rutgers field hockey team hosted the No. 6 team in the country and the best team in the Big Ten, it tied the record for most goals scored against Northwestern so far this season.

The only other teams that have scored 3 goals on the Wildcats (9-2, 4-0) are No. 3 Duke — who handed the team its second of just two losses in 2016 — and No. 5 Penn State. 

The Scarlet Knights (6-4, 1-2) scored all 3 of their goals in the second half after facing a 3-0 deficit at halftime.

Though the late rally was not enough to capture the W and Rutgers took a 5-3 loss Friday, the team is proud of the statement it made.

“I thought the fact that they were able to come back and claw their way back into this game… it says a lot about what they’re mentally capable of,” said head coach Meredith Civico. “I think that they really didn’t doubt for a second going into halftime, being down 3 goals — they just focused on the adjustments we needed to make and just really going after Northwestern and attacking them.”

On a cold, rainy afternoon at Bauer Track/Field Hockey Complex, the Knights got off to a slow start that the Cats capitalized on. 

After getting on the board within the first 5 minutes, Northwestern tallied 2 more goals in the final ten minutes of the opening frame.

But the second half was a different game.

Within two minutes after Northwestern netted its fourth goal, Rutgers got on the board when senior captain Alyssa Bull sent a beautiful ball into the back of the net, with senior forward Rachel Yaney on the assist.

Freshman midfielder Katie Larmour and senior forward Sarah Regn notched a goal a piece in the final ten minutes of the game, but the Wildcats had already answered back with a fifth goal to secure the win.

A Scarlet Knight comeback in the air during the game’s final minutes had Northwestern head coach Tracey Fuchs looking at her team and asking what was wrong with them.

Rutgers made it clear that regardless of the team across from them, they weren’t going to surrender their perfect home field record without a fight

“I think that we were there but there moments in this game that we collapsed and didn’t have as much pressure as we should’ve. But I think our second half was phenomenal,” Regn said. “The really great thing about our team today was, regardless of the score, we want it. Although tactically, maybe (there were) a few things we could’ve adjusted, I think in essence we played really well and we played for each other.”

Northwestern is currently the second-highest ranked Big Ten opponent the Knights will face this season, just after No. 5 Penn State.

Had Rutgers come out as strong as it did in the second half from the jump, it would’ve been a different game for both teams.

“This was our first competition that is top six in the country and it showed what they can do best and what we can learn from them but also that we can beat anybody if we play [the full 70 minutes],” said senior defender Sofia Walia.

The Knights can take pride in their mental will to resurge but it is crucial that the team learns from the faults exposed throughout the Northwestern game.

Still early in conference play, Rutgers has plenty more heavy lifting to do through the second half of its season. From here on out, the team's ability to adapt and fine tune will be key.

“Overall, I’m pleased with how we competed but I think there’s some obvious areas where we need to keep working,” Civico said. “If we keep working and we keep improving in those areas, I think we’re gonna be in really good shape.”

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

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