In what has been an impressive season so far for the Rutgers field hockey team, another first was accomplished on Tuesday. In this week’s NFCHA Coaches Poll, the Scarlet Knights received their highest ranking ever, moving up two spots to #15th in the country.
Rutgers is coming off a weekend where they split two games, both of which were against ranked opponents. #7 Penn State (8-3; 3-1) came to Piscataway and escaped with a 3-2 victory after holding a 22-12 advantage in shots in the contest.
Rutgers went on the road two days later and defeated then #19 Delaware on Sunday afternoon in what was a defensive battle. Despite being outshot 10-5, they gutted out a 2-1 victory, their first road win over a ranked opponent since 2013.
Rutgers (8-3; 1-3) is now 3-3 against ranked foes this season. Their highest ranked win in program history took place in September, as the Scarlet Knights defeated then #6 Princeton 1-0 at home. The Tigers are 8-3 on the season as well and currently ranked #5th in the latest coaches poll.
The Big Ten is stacked with quality teams, as seven squads are ranked in the top 25 coaches poll released on Tuesday. Rutgers now gears up for its biggest game of the season, as they visit undefeated #2 Maryland (12-0; 3-0) this Friday afternoon. The Scarlet Knights are looking for their first ever win over the Terps since joining the Big Ten in 2014, losing all five previous meetings.
While a Big Ten regular season title is out of reach with four conference matches remaining, Rutgers is inching towards earning its first berth to the NCAA Tournament since 1986. RU has only earned an NCAA bid twice ever, the first coming in 1984.
The latest RPI Rankings after Sunday’s action have Rutgers at #16th. They own two victories over programs ranked in the top ten in Princeton at #4 and St. Joseph’s at #9. There are plenty of opportunities to boost their RPI in the month of October, as future opponents include #1 Maryland, #12 Northwestern and #13 Iowa. Only 18 teams are selected for the NCAA Tournament, so Rutgers needs to finish this season strong in order to secure it’s first bid in over three decades. They almost made it last season, but finished right outside the bubble with a 9-9 record and RPI ranking of #20.
The Scarlet Knights have benefited from a balanced scoring attack this season, as five players have tallied at least four goals each. They are led by sophomore midfielder Daphne Groothuis who has 21 total points total with 6 goals and 9 assists, which is the fourth most in the country. Austyn Cuneo (5 goals, 2 assists) and Linde van Schaik (4 goals, 4 assists) each have 12 points. In goal, Gianna Glatz has produced a 0.74 save percentage and is allowing just 1.26 goals per contest. Both marks are third best in the Big Ten.
In addition to Friday’s showdown at #2 Maryland, Rutgers will have a quick turnaround on Sunday afternoon at home against Georgetown (8-3).
For more on the great season that Rutgers field hockey is having so far, listen to episode #15 of our On The Banks podcast here, as host Lance Glinn spoke at length with head coach Meredith Civico about the road she has paved in turning the Scarlet Knights program into a winner.