Rutgers to go on road for battle with No. 7 Northwestern

The Rutgers women’s lacrosse team will have a big battle ahead of it to get back to .500 when it travels to No. 7 Northwestern this Saturday.

The Scarlet Knights (7-8, 1-3) are hot off their last game, when they beat Michigan 9-8 in overtime. This game will prove to be a bit more challenging, though, considering the Wildcats (12-3, 4-0) are undefeated in conference play and all of their losses have come against ranked opponents.

Rutgers has not had a great run of games against its conference this year, and looking at its record against Northwestern will not provide any comfort heading into the game. The Knights are 0-3 against the Wildcats since 2015, and have lost by more than 7 goals each game.

Looking into the Northwestern attack, it has two dominant players who handle the majority of the scoring. Its leading scorer is junior attacker Selena Lasota, who has 41 goals and 53 points on the season. Lasota has 22 points and 16 goals in her last four games, propelling the team to their four-game winning streak. 

The Wildcats' other leading scorer is senior midfielder Sheila Nesselbush, accounting for 37 goals and 47 points on the season. Between the two, they account for 35 percent of their team’s goals, which is a scary good offensive attack Northwestern is running with.

The margin in difference between Rutgers and the Wildcats offense can be the difference in the game. Northwestern is 17th in the nation, scoring 14.93 goals per game. 

Meanwhile, the Knights average 11.53 goals scored per game. One may think the game will be a back and forth high scoring game, but the Wildcats hold teams to a measly 9.33 goals per game, contrasted to Rutgers' 11.80 goals allowed per game.

Both teams are entering the game with at least a week's worth of rest, so neither team should be overly tired for the game. The Knights will throw their best shot the next two games, considering they will need to win the next two games if they want be more than .500 on the season. 

Looking at the goalkeeper differential, both teams rely upon their starters to handle the majority of the minutes. Rutgers junior goalkeeper Devon Kearns has 124 saves on the season, with a .461 save percentage. Kearns will expect to face a ton of shots, and hope that the extra week off will let her be 100 percent for this one. 

Nortwestern's goalkeeper Julie Krupnick has played more than 70 minutes than Kearns and has registered 120 saves, adding a .484 save percentage. This may be due to many factors, but the Knights just might be able to crack the tough defensive shell the Wildcats have.

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

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