The landmark season for the #13th ranked Rutgers Field Hockey team continued on Friday afternoon with an upset 1-0 victory over #7 Iowa. It was the Big Ten regular season finale for the Scarlet Knights, who took the lead in the 21st minute of the first half. Daphne Groothuis took the shot from the top of the circle and Nikki Profita got a stick on it to redirect into the net for what was ultimately the game winning goal.
That was all the Rutgers defense needed, as they held the Hawkeyes in check for an NCAA leading eighth shutout this season. Iowa outshot Rutgers 10-3 in the game and 6-0 in the second half, but entire defense came up huge in the victory. They were led by Big Ten and National Defensive Player of the Week, goalkeeper Gianna Glatz. She had three saves in the contest with none bigger than this denial on a penalty stroke with just nine minutes left in the game. She jumped to block Katie Birch’s shot aimed at the top corner of the net, but Glatz blocked it away.
Iowa continued to push and had five corners, but the Rutgers defense held strong to preserve the win. It was just the second time in 17 games this season that Iowa failed to score.
Head coach Meredith Civico had this say after the program’s record fourth Big Ten victory:
“This was a great result. We knew it was going to be a tough game. Iowa is a really good team this year. We’re a really good team this year. So we knew it would be a tight game. I’m really proud of the team for executing on our chances and being really tough and gritty defensively. We’ve proved that we can compete with anybody, and that gives us a lot of confidence going into the Big Ten Tournament.”
“The last moments were really nerve-wracking, but we have so much confidence in that defensive penalty corner unit. We had scouted Iowa and we really knew this game could come down to that. The coaching staff helped do an excellent job in training this week preparing them for that, and we knew that they were really good and ready for that.”
Profita spoke about her eighth goal of the season and fourth in her last four games:
“It was great to get that goal early and be up one in that early phase of the game. It was critical for us to keep that intensity going. That was a huge early boost of confidence. Winning this is awesome. This team doesn’t have any limitations this year on what we can accomplish, and winning this game really shows that.”
Glatz talked about what this victory meant for this team:
“This win puts us in such a great place, knowing that Iowa is a top-10 team. This shows what we can do against those quality of teams. I knew if I saved that stroke, I could keep us in the game. The team had my back, and I had to have theirs. We got it done and now we can continue to feed off this energy and we know how to get the job done.”
Rutgers is now 12-4 on the season and finished 4-4 in Big Ten play. This was a huge win in regard to the program’s quest for its first NCAA bid in 32 years, as Rutgers had an RPI ranking of 11 and Iowa was 12 entering this game. With an 18 team field, this victory helps boost the resume of Rutgers in a major way. It was their fifth win over a ranked opponent this season and second over a top ten team. They close out the regular season on Sunday at home at 2 p.m. against American on Senior Day.