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No. 16 Rutgers makes exit from Big Ten Tournament

The Rutgers field hockey team entered the Big Ten postseason tournament with a top 20 ranking and a 10-7 overall record this season. But, the No. 16 Scarlet Knights (10-8, 4-4) made an early exit in the Big Ten Tournament, falling 3-1 in a close game to Northwestern.

Held at Penn State's campus, Rutgers saw itself down 1-0 at halftime after Bente Baekers scored her first of 3 goals on the day. Coming into this matchup, Baekers was the No. 14 Wildcats' (14-6, 5-3) leading goal scorer with 25. 

At the end of the first half, the Knights had five shots compared to Northwestern's nine. Aside from Baekers's goal in the first period, junior goalkeeper Gianna Glatz did not let in any other scores. She made six saves compared to her counterpart, Florien Marcussen of the Wildcats, who finished the half with one save.

Marcussen made four saves the whole game while Glatz made seven between the pipes for Rutgers.

The Knights wouldn't see points on the board until 44th minute, when fifth-year senior back Austyn Cuneo scored her team-leading 8th goal of the season. Cuneo, who was named a Second Team All-Big Ten honoree earlier last week, finishes her final year on the Banks with eight assists and 24 points. Throughout her career, the Waterford Works, New Jersey, native has 19 goals and 53 points.

Prior to Cuneo scoring her goal, Baekers netted 2 goals less than 2 minutes apart in the 30th and 31st minutes. Her first was unassisted, while Kirsten Mansfield and Christen Conley assisted her second. Baekers had nine shots, seven of which were on goal.

Cuneo had 10 shots, 4 of which were goals. Junior back Kerrie Burns had one shot, which was on goal. Burns has 4 goals this season along with 9 points. Junior midfielder Gianna Mancini had one shot as well.

Rutgers finished the season with a 10-8 overall record. At home, the team was 5-3 at home and 4-4 on the road. At neutral site action, the Knights finished 1-1.

Rutgers scored 29 goals on 212 shot attempts and allowed 25 goals on 171 shot attempts to opponents. 

Glatz allowed 25 goals, maintaining a 1.49 goals against average. The junior made 71 total saves on the season, finishing with a 9-8 record.

The Knights' highest-scoring game was a 4-goal barrage against Ball State back on Aug. 31. In that game, junior midfielder Katie Larmour netted 2 goals on five shots. 

Against Northwestern, sophomore midfielder Tayla Parkes tallied an assist, capping off a career-high season of 9 points. Rutgers controlled the corner battle over the weekend, maintaining a 12-5 advantage in that area.

The Knights last season were ousted by the Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament's quarterfinals round, a game that consisted of double overtime periods. Both teams were scoreless until Esther Clotet netted the game-winning goal in the 88th minute.

Last season, Rutgers earned a berth in the NCAA Field Hockey Tournament, but were held scoreless by UConn in the first round. The Huskies were then ranked No. 5 in the country and scored as many goals as their ranking in that game.

In 2018, the Knights finished 13-6 with a 4-4 Big Ten record, similar to this season. In head coach Meredith Civico's eight years at the helm, their highest win total against conference opponents has been four.

The conclusion of the regular season and the early exit from the Big Ten Tournament mark the second consecutive year in which Rutgers finished with more than a .500 win percentage. The Knights have only done this since last year.

For updates on the Rutgers field hockey team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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