Rutgers approaches fourth ranked opponent in No. 10 Cornell
The Rutgers women’s lacrosse team is red hot as of late, which is perfect timing, as it gets set to face off against a highly-ranked Ivy League opponent this weekend.
The Scarlet Knights (7-4, 1-1) are facing off against Cornell (6-1, 3-0), the No. 10 ranked team in the nation, this Saturday afternoon in their third straight game in Piscataway.
Rutgers, currently on a two-game win streak and winners of five of its last six, are finding the right time to play well, as it faces its fourth ranked opponent this season. The team has outscored its opponents 76-53 during this span, dating back to March 4.
On Tuesday night, the Knights knocked off Niagara with ease, scoring a season-high 18 goals and matching a season-high 10 goal differential in the 18-8 win.
Some highlights included a season-first hat trick for sophomore attacker Abbey Brooks, a second straight hat trick from senior midfielder Kristina Dunphey and a season-high point total as a team with 27.
“It’s definitely good to feed off of,” Brooks said, after also adding an assist to her three-goal performance. “I think that we are going to enjoy the win, but we are going to put it behind us and look forward to Saturday.”
On the other side of the ball, Cornell is coming into Saturday’s game riding a five-game win streak and playing well in its short start to the season, so far.
In their last game, the Big Red had a conference matchup with Yale in New Haven, Connecticut, and it was quite a game. Cornell went into the locker room at halftime down 5-3, but outscored the Bulldogs 12-1 in the second half, winning the game by a comfortable 15-6 outcome.
Rutgers have seen some great overall performances from multiple student athletes this season. So far, Dunphey and redshirt junior attacker Nicole Kopyta lead the team with 20 goals apiece, while senior team captain attacker Amanda Turturro leads the team with 14 assists.
Dunphey and Turturro are currently tied atop the points leaderboard with each having 29 on the season. Kopyta has scored in 10 of the Knights' 11 games this season, where Rutgers has been 7-3 in games she’s scored.
Although the team is in a great spot heading into the meat of their schedule, it doesn’t seem to be enough for them, still wanting more and feeling like there is more to improve on.
“I think we have to work on faster ball movement, dodging with our heads up and looking for feeds in the middle,” said junior attacker Kerri Puckhaber. “But I think we should be okay for Saturday.”
Puckhaber had a very well-rounded game on Tuesday, scoring twice and hooking up her teammates for scores three times.
The Knights and Cornell haven’t seen each other since 2014, where this year’s senior class were just fresh-faced first years, looking to get their careers going. Rutgers defeated the Big Red 10-9 and brought the all-time matchup record up to 12-4 in Cornell’s favor.
“I think there is a lot that we can watch on film,” said head coach Laura Brand-Sias. “A lot that we can learn as a program from what we see on film. We have got a super quality opponent coming in on Saturday.”
The Knights and Cornell have faced some similar opponents this season, having both faced Penn and Penn State.
Rutgers fell to both teams in hard fought matches, including coming back from five goals down against Penn but ultimately losing 11-9. Big Red also couldn’t handle the Lions in a close one-goal loss, but was able to take out the Quakers on the road in a 10-4 win.
The Knights will return to conference play and close out their four-game home stand next week, as Maryland will visit High Point Solutions Stadium on April 8.
“We’ve got to make sure we tighten up a lot of the stuff that we were doing and put together a really good game plan for Saturday,” Brand-Sias said.
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