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Rutgers readies for fall slate under new head coach

When the Rutgers women's lacrosse team starts its fall slate this weekend, there will be a new leader at the helm.

Head coach Melissa Lehman will enter her first season at the helm of the Scarlet Knights. Former head coach Laura Brand Sias stepped down from her position this past May, after Rutgers finished with a 5-11 overall record while losing all six Big Ten games in the spring.

Lehman arrives on the Banks after spending 10 years in Philadelphia with UPenn as an associate head coach and assistant coach. Lehman helped coach a Quakers team to eight Ivy League championships and 10 national tournament appearances. 

The Knights are looking for their first winning season since 2013, as members of the Big East, when they finished the year with an overall record of 9-8. Since Big Ten competition started in the spring of 2014, Rutgers has not won more than three conference games.

The Knights return their top four goal scorers while losing seven seniors from last season's roster. Junior attack Taralyn Naslonski netted a team-high 39 goals and 60 points last season while senior midfielder Samantha Budd had 36 goals and 49 points, second on the team.

Rutgers will start its fall campaign this Sunday at the Marco Battaglia Practice Complex, for their Play Day. The Knights will welcome Lehigh, Quinnipiac and the New York Athletic Club. In the first weekend of October, Rutgers will travel to West Point, New York, for a matchup with Army. 

Then, on Oct. 13, the Knights will head down Route 1 South for the Princeton Play Day, where the team will compete against the host Tigers, USC and Albany. 

To close out the fall schedule, Rutgers will visit Philadelphia for the Drexel Tournament featuring Monmouth, the Dragons and Mount St. Mary's. 

The 2019 recruiting class features 13 players, made up of eight New Jersey residents. 

Several of the incoming freshmen bring in a plethora of high school accolades. Freshman defender Meghan Ball was mentioned by NJ Advance Media as one of the top defenders in the state at Bridgewater-Raritan.

Freshman goalkeeper Alonna Gliksman had more than 30 wins between the pipes at Somerville High School. She was selected as an Under Armor Underclassmen All-American.

Freshman midfielder Lindsay Netwon is 1 of 4 out-of-state players to come to the Banks. She was the first girl’s lacrosse player from her high school, Upper St. Clair High School, in Pittsburgh to commit to a Big Ten program. She netted more than 100 goals in her four years at the school.

As a team last season, the Knights scored 167 goals while averaging 28.6 shots per game. Rutgers struggled in the face-off game, controlling 173 compared to opponents’ 240.The Knights netted 92 unassisted goals while their opponents scored 143 times.

Last season's goalkeeper Kameron Halsall started in 12 games last season, her first year between the pipes. She ended the season with 117 saves and 13.8 goals against average. She did not register a shutout in net.

Rutgers scooped 242 ground balls while committing 204 turnovers in 2018.

The team only competed in one overtime game last season, while finishing in regulation for the most part of last season. 

“Melissa brings a record of experience and accomplishment that has positioned her to bring great success to our Scarlet Knight program,” said Athletics Director Pat Hobbs. “Her reputation for developing student-athletes, both academically and athletically, is well known.”

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

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