No. 13 Rutgers hosts No. 7 Iowa, American in last week of regular season
The Rutgers field hockey team will close out its Big Ten schedule on Friday, with a home game against Iowa. The game will carry serious seeding implications for the Big Ten Tournament.
Coming in to this game, the No. 7 Hawkeyes (12-4, 4-3) have played five consecutive ranked opponents. The No. 13 Scarlet Knights (11-4, 3-4) will be their sixth ranked opponent as well as their last game of the regular season.
With a 4-3 conference record, Iowa could cement itself as the No. 4 seed and guarantee itself a home quarterfinal game in the Tournament with a win over Rutgers. The Knights have a 3-4 conference record, and are looking to improve their current standing of sixth in the Big Ten.
The Hawkeyes have wins over Ohio State and Penn State, two teams which Rutgers have lost to earlier this year. But, the Knights have a 2-1 win over Northwestern, whom Iowa lost to, 2-0.
Expect this game to be a low-scoring affair. Iowa boasts the best defense in the Big Ten, allowing just 14 goals all season. Rutgers counters with the second best defense in the conference, having allowed 18 goals this year.
“We’ve really got to focus on moving the ball,” said head coach Meredith Civico. “We’ve got to play two-touch hockey, got to make the field big against Iowa and we’ve got to get the ball to the other side of the field in transition quickly.”
The Hawkeyes are led by forward Maddy Murphy, who has 13 goals and 32 points on the season.
The Knights are led by sophomore midfielder Daphne Groothuis, who has 11 goals, 12 assists and 34 points on the year. Her 0.80 assists per game rank her third in the country and second in the Big Ten in that category.
“I think Iowa is a really good team,” Civico said. “They’re playing some really good hockey, they’ve got a lot of belief in their ability and I think it's going to be a grudge match to be honest. We knew that it was going to come down to this game, and there’s a lot on the line for us, but we’re going to focus on us and play our hockey and be ready for a battle.”
After the key game on Friday, Rutgers will play its last regular season game on Sunday at home against American. The game will serve as senior day, as the team will honor seniors midfielder Nikki Profita and backfielder Linde van Schaik in a pregame ceremony.
The Eagles (7-5) have not played a Big Ten team all season.
The Knights will then have a full week of practice before their first quarterfinal game in the Big Ten Tournament on Sunday, Oct. 28. The matchup and location of the game is still to be determined.
Based on the current standings, it is most likely Rutgers will finish as the No. 6 seed in the Big Ten. That could change depending on upsets during the last weekend of Big Ten play, but if the Knights were to finish as the No. 6 seed, they would most likely travel to Penn State to take on the Nittany Lions in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.
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