Rutgers Field Hockey (3-0) handed #18 St. Joe’s their first loss of the season on Sunday afternoon with a 3-2 win in Piscataway, New Jersey. They remain undefeated on the season with a pair of shutouts and their first ranked win of 2018.
Rutgers opened up the scoring about five minutes into the game when Captain Linde van Schaik slammed the ball in at the back post off of an assist from Daphne Groothuis. This is van Schaik’s first goal of the season and 18th of her career. The team’s 1-0 lead would hold until halftime.
St. Joe’s scored about 14 minutes into the second half off of a corner but the tie stood for just 66 seconds when Rutgers responded on a penalty stroke from Groothuis to put them back on top.
When asked about the goal, Groothuis said, “Taking a stroke is really stressful… standing alone, and feeling that everyone is watching you but I always take a second for myself. As soon as the whistle blows, I just take a second and decide which corner I go and then I just give the max effort and I was so happy I scored.”
But Rutgers would not hold the lead and St. Joe’s would tie the game back up about four minutes later with 15 minutes remaining. 10 minutes later, however, senior vice captain Nikki Profita picked a great moment for her first career goal, which would ultimately be the game winning tally.
Profita said, “So we started up in the game and they came back and scored on us. We scored again, they responded again. So that kinda put us in a bit of a pickle but we kept going and kept going and knew we were on top and could finish on top. Always just being aggressive the whole time in the circle and my teammate Daph [Groothuis] just happened to be taking a shot. I just happened to be in the right place, right time to finish and that ended up putting us on top and ultimately winning the game, which was awesome.”
Profita continues, “I think, especially with this team, it was one that we had lost last year so we knew this year we wanted to have a different result. We’re a totally different team than last year so that was the driving force behind that. We knew the whole time that we wanted to win, that we were behind the ball so it was just kind of believing in the process, taking it minute by minute, half by half, and believing in ourselves and that’s kind of what it took to get the win.”
The game was a back-and-forth affair but Groothuis loved it: “It’s actually exciting. These are my favorite games because it’s good to look at and being up and then down is always hard mentally but… you gotta do it as a team. You gotta stay composed and then just shift the ball around, find our momentum, and then we can go so that’s how we got up to 3-2, I think, in the end.”
And they were able to carry the momentum and pick up their first ranked win of the season. Groothuis, especially, always seems to come through in clutch situations. She says, “I actually do [thrive on being under pressure]. Big games are actually where I feel like I play better... I know we gotta stay focused. I know that there a lot of people are watching. I just gotta play good, you know what I mean? But playing as a team today, I felt so good. The team was amazing, we did everything as a team. I feel like every player gave the max effort. It was just awesome.”
Groothuis has put the team on her back and leads with three goals and six assists for 12 points. She has had at least one goal and one assist in every game so far this season.
Rutgers is 3-0 for the second straight season. Gracey Butsack and Tayla Parkes also had shots. Goalkeeper Gianna Glatz made seven saves.
How can they keep this going for the remainder of the home stand and the season? Groothuis says, “Keep showing up to practice. Give 100% every single day. Make sure that we’re sleeping, we’re resting, we’re recovering, eating well. Just doing everything as a team and then we’ll get there.”
Profita adds that they just have to keep going and trust the process: “We’ve been saying that this season is just trust the process. It’s a process so each practice, each game, each day… we kinda just gotta take it day by day. Obviously this is a huge win and we’re really excited about it but we have to put that in the back pocket now and moving on to next weekend so just taking it weekend by weekend until we get to Big Tens and then hopefully whatever happens at the end of the season.”
Hopefully whatever happens at the end of the season is a run at the Big Ten Championships.
Rutgers finishes their five-game home stand this weekend when they host a Friday afternoon tilt against Cornell at 3PM and Sunday morning against #10 Princeton at 11AM.