It’s a fairly good number of wins in field hockey. And it’s a number that Rutgers (9-9) has been stuck on. Sunday’s loss to No. 10 Northwestern in the Big Ten Field Hockey Tournament quarterfinals prevented the Knights from getting the elusive tenth win, something the team hasn’t achieved since 2008, and never under head coach Meredith Civico.
RU took a 3-2 lead into the closing minutes of the game. Scores by freshmen Kassidy Shetler, Gianna Mancini, and sophomore Austyn Cuneo put the Knights ahead. But two penalty corners in the final four minutes of the game gave the Wildcats all the opportunities they needed to put the game away. The Cats scored at the 3:35 mark and then again with just 1:49 to earn the 4-3 win.
"This was just disappointing," said head coach Civico. "We just weren't able to execute under pressure in the final ten minutes of the game and get the outcome that we wanted. We have a lot of young players that have seen significant minutes this year and really stepped up. This is a good lesson for them about what tournament play is like that they can take moving forward."
The question now is whether the NCAA will look at Rutgers’ season and say it was worth consideration for the 18-team NCAA Tournament. Rutgers beat three ranked teams during the regular season. But they also lost to a number of teams that are ahead of them in the RPI (using last week’s numbers).
The ACC has seven teams ahead of Rutgers in the RPI. There are four B1G teams ahead, all RU losses this season. There are eight Automatic Qualifier leaders (in bold above) in front of Rutgers as well, including the two top teams in the B1G and ACC. Rutgers only has one win against a team that was ahead of it in the RPI, and three total wins against Top 25 RPI schools. Getting a bid to the NCAAs might be a very long shot. But, for now, it’s wait and see for the Knights.