It was a season that was cruising right along. But the schedule makers, depending on your point of view, didn’t do right by the Rutgers Field Hockey team.
Sitting at 7-4, the team faced a tough weekend in Michigan. A loss to then-No. 4 Michigan meant that the Knights were going to face No. 12 Stanford coming off a loss. No problem; the Knights took the game into overtime and won, 2-1.
But after a strong win at home versus Michigan State, the Scarlet were scheduled to face No. 25 Ohio State, No. 6 Penn State, and No. 12 Maryland over the course of seven days. They were all losses to close the season at 9-8.
Despite that, though, the Knights are still ranked at No. 20 nationally and have the No. 5 seed in the B1G tournament. They will face No. 10 (4 seed) Northwestern on Sunday at Northwestern. The Wildcats went 13-5 in the regular season with a 6-2 conference mark.
In the regular season, Northwestern topped Rutgers in Evanston, 3-2 on Sept. 29. The Knights rallied with second half goals from Linde van Schaik and Kerrie Burns, but fell by the one-goal margin. Freshman goalkeeper Gianna Glatz made six saves in the game.
"We're excited about the draw in the Big Ten Tournament and the matchup against Northwestern,” head coach Meredith Civico said. “We played them really tight during the season. We definitely know after playing them what we can exploit and what we need to neutralize in order to be successful. Our team is very focused in our preparation for this game."
A win for the Knights would put them in the semifinals against the winner of the game between Ohio State/Indiana and Michigan, which is being played this afternoon. RU topped Indiana (2-0) but lost to both Michigan (5-0) and Ohio State (2-0) during the season.
The Scarlet Knights are looking for their first ever Big Ten Tournament win. A victory would also give RU 10 wins in a season for the first time since 2008. And making it to the NCAA tournament, which would not be easy if they don’t win the Big Ten tournament.
The following ten conferences get Automatic Bids to the NCAA tourney (each conference’s highest RPI team listed in parentheses: America East Conference (Stanford); Atlantic 10 Conference (St. Joseph’s); Atlantic Coast Conference (Duke); Big East Conference (UConn); Big Ten Conference (Michigan); Colonial Athletic Association (Delaware); The Ivy League (Princeton); Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (Monmouth); Mid-American Conference (Longwood); and Patriot League (Boston Univ).
Monmouth, Longwood, and BU are all behind Rutgers in the RPI. Which means that regardless of who wins their conference tournaments, RU gets pushed back a little further in the eyes of the selection committee because of the AQs. A strong B1G tournament might help, but it will be a huge challenge.
Big Ten Field Hockey Tournament (All times Eastern)
Friday, Oct. 27 at Michigan
Game 1 #8 Ohio State vs. #9 Indiana - 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 29
Game 2 (BTN/BTN2Go) @ #1 Michigan vs. Ohio State/Indiana - 12:00 p.m.
Game 3 (BTN Plus) @ #4 Northwestern vs. #5 Rutgers - 12:30 p.m.
Game 4 @ #3 Penn State vs. #6 Iowa - 12:00 p.m.
Game 5 (BTN Plus) @ #2 Maryland vs. #7 Michigan State - 1:00 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 3 at Michigan State
Semifinal #1 (BTN/BTN2Go) - 11 a.m.
Semifinal #2 (BTN/BTN2Go) - 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 5 at Michigan State
Championship Game (BTN/BTN2Go) - 12 p.m.