Rutgers drops 15-5 midweek matchup to No. 10 UPenn

Coming off two straight wins and an overtime thriller down in Delaware, the Rutgers woman’s lacrosse team returned to Stadium last night to host its first ranked opponent of the season in No. 10 UPenn. What ensued was the team’s worst loss of the season so far.

The 15-5 defeat is the program’s largest margin of defeat since last season’s 19-7 loss at Northwestern, which — ironically enough — also followed an overtime victory. 

“We’ve moved on from the overtime win for sure, so really we just respect what Penn brings to the table," said head coach Laura Brand Sias. "They’re a very solid and disciplined team especially from the defensive side of the ball. They top to bottom have really good 1-on-1 defenders so we knew we were really gonna have to be on point offensively."

The Scarlet Knights (3-2) lack of offense didn’t show the struggles they would face early. Rutgers drew first blood less than 5 minutes into the first period on an unassisted shot by freshman attack Taralyn Naslonski.

It would be the first and only lead that the Knights would hold all night and it lasted for all of 4 minutes. The Quakers (3-0) responded with 3 unanswered goals over a 5-minute stretch, each by a different player. 

Senior attack Abbey Brooks stopped the bleeding inside the 14-minute mark with a dribbler that hit off the goalkeeper's stick and found the back of the net to cut the lead to 1. But once again UPenn responded only a minute later with a goal from Abbey Bosco. 

The Quakers added 2 more goals before halftime to widen the gap to 6-2.

When Sias and her team came back out of the locker room, they, by all accounts, had a fighter's chance only down 4, but UPenn had other ideas with a barrage of 7 straight goals without a Rutgers answer.

“We were outmatched today," Sias said. "I don’t think we put together a great performance and to beat a team like Penn we need to put together our best performance from top to bottom, and I don’t think we came out prepared to do that."

The final 14 minutes saw Naslonski find the back of the net on 3 more goals to tally a season high 4 goals scored. The Randolph, New Jersey native pushed her season tally to 13 as the lone bright spot for the Knights in this game. 

The end of the game also saw some backups get some playing time, as Sias and her team have fully turned their attention to a winnable match against another Philadelphia-based program as they are set to face Drexel on the road on Saturday. 

“I don’t care who our opponent is, we need to respect the things we need to improve on,” Sias said. “We need to go back to the drawing board. We need to learn from this. We need to learn quickly because we have a short turnaround.”

Adjustments on offense will be an emphasis for Sias as the team prepares to face the Dragons (1-2). Rutgers has scored more than double digits in every other game this season, but its 5 goals scored against the Quakers ties the team’s lowest offensive total since April 2016 against then No. 1 Maryland. 

“On offense right now, we’re relying on a couple people and everyone else is waiting for them to do things and we need to fix that,” Sias said.

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

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