Around Rutgers lacrosse, most of the hype surrounds the nationally ranked men’s squad, but the women’s squad is proving that they are not far behind with potential for making noise on the national scene.
Head coach Laura Brand Sias is entering her 16th season on the job. She led her squad to 8 victories last season and finished at a .500 overall record, including an upset win over No.18 James Madison, just a season after finishing 6 and 12 overall.
On taking the next step, Head Coach Laura Brand Sias stated that Rutgers needs depth to climb the standings in the Big Ten, “We competed in games but the biggest difference [taking the next step in Big Ten play] is depth. We had a lot of games where we competed for the first half, and faded in the second half”.
However, this season, coach Sias stated that she believes they are starting to develop depth in the squad, which she stated that she would like to come “quicker”, but slowly, it is developing in the program.
Rutgers will have to overcome the loss of graduating seniors Kristina Dunphey who scored 31 goals last season, and Amanda Turturro who scored 20 goals last season, and was an over 100 point career scorer in her time at Rutgers.
On replacing the 51 goals lost to graduation, Sias said, “We don’t want to be a team where if you shut one player down, no one else knows how to step up. This year we have multiple people capable of drawing attention, so it might be a little harder for our opponents to identify who they’re going to focus on.”
The most likely candidate to pick up the lost production is redshirt senior Nicole Kopyta, who appeared in 16 games last season and started one while registering 24 goals. Other players figure to factor in the Rutgers attack are Abbey Brooks and senior team co-captain Keri Puckhaber, who were both double-digit scorers for the Knights last season.
Puckhaber, fellow sophomore attacker Samantha Budd, and defender Amanda Casten have been named to the Big Ten players to watch list for this upcoming season.
The other co-captain is defender Christine Dilullo, who will provide leadership from the back.
The Rutgers midfield got a boost with the transfer in of Allie Ferrara from Lousiville, where she helped the Cardinals to an 11-8 record last season.
The Big Ten Coaches’ poll predicts the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team to finish in 5th place out of 7 schools. They are picked ahead of Ohio State and Michigan and behind Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Penn State and unanimous predicted Big Ten Champion Maryland.
Last season, the Knights beat both Michigan and Ohio State and lost to the 4 teams predicted to finish ahead in the standings.
Rutgers opens its season with a trip to Temple on Saturday, February 10th, followed by additional road games at LIU Brooklyn and Monmouth. The season home opener is on Saturday, February 24th against Delaware. The Scarlet Knights begin Big Ten play on March 17th at home against Penn State.