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Rutgers unable to complete upset bid over No. 17 Northwestern

With a win helping to solidify its chances at the Big Ten tournament, the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team had to face yet another ranked opponent in order to do so.

The Scarlet Knights (8-7, 2-3) faced off against No. 17 Northwestern on Saturday morning, but fell to the Wildcats (9-7, 4-1) in what turned into a 14-7 blowout loss in Piscataway.

Rutgers jumped out to an early 3-0 lead and held on to it for quite some time, keeping the Cats scoreless until the 19:15 mark of the first half. Sophomore attacker Abbey Brooks kicked things off with the first goal of the game, then senior team captain midfielder Macy Scott put in her own before Brooks added another off an assist from senior team captain Amanda Turturro.

The Knights retook its 3-goal lead with a goal by junior attacker Kerri Puckhaber, but Northwestern eventually brought it back to two with 12 minutes left in the half.

Both teams were playing stifling defense throughout, with Rutgers not allowing Northwestern into the box and in the few times they did, immediately stripping the ball and running back downfield.

“In the first half we came out strong,” said sophomore attacker Dana Gisonno. “But in the second half, we kind of fell apart. We were losing and we kind of gave up.”

The Knights and Wildcats went back and forth on goals, with the hosts maintaining a 5-4 lead with 3:58 to play in the half off a goal by Turturro from Gisonno, while the Cats put in 2 of their own.

With the early assist and goal, Turturro became the 24th all-time player in Rutgers women’s lacrosse history to have 100 points in their career. Turturro joins fellow senior midfielder Kristina Dunphey in the record books, who reached the milestone earlier this season.

“It feels great,” Turturro said. “It’s definitely a big accomplishment, but I would have rather won the game.”

The Knights took the 5-4 lead to the halftime buzzer, heading into the locker room with the small 1-goal lead.

Northwestern tied things up at 5 goals apiece at the 26:44 mark in the final half, before taking its first lead of the game and adding on another with 21:21 left. Overall, the Cats were on a 7-2 run after being down 3-0 early in the first half.

Rutgers finally stopped the bleeding and came back within one, when Dunphey scored off Gisonno’s second assist of the game, but the Wildcats answered right back andmade it an 8-6 game with 18:57 remaining.

The Cats really opened things up for themselves and took over by scoring another six goals and 7 straight overall, taking the largest lead of the game at eight, more than doubling the Knights' score, 14-6.

“We were getting the draw controls but couldn’t really finish on offense,” Gisonno said. “Defense was getting some stops but we couldn’t just finish.”

Northwestern kept Rutgers scoreless for nearly 20 minutes, but the Knights threw in 1 last goal from junior attacker Joana Reilly before the horn sounded with the final score at 14-7.

Rutgers had two injury scares which thankfully remained scares, with Turturro and junior midfielder Paige Paratore both going down in two separate stints. Turturro initially went off to the sideline before running back in, while Paratore jumped up off the ground, fixed her headband and sprinted downfield.

“I was defending the ball and just got tripped up with someone else and landed right on my kneecap, so I actually have to go check with the doctor,” Turturro said.

With the loss, the Knights end the season 4-5 overall at home, having lost three straight at High Point Solutions Stadium.

Rutgers now will play its most important game of the season next week, where a battle for the last spot in the Big Ten Tournament will be up for grabs, when it faces Johns Hopkins (10-5, 2-3) in Baltimore, Maryland.

“We came out slow and Northwestern just came out a step faster than us,” Turturro said.

For updates on the Rutgers women's lacrosse team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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