A new era began for the Rutgers women’s lacrosse program on Saturday, as they opened the 2020 season at SHI Stadium under first year head coach Melissa Lehman. After a 10 year career as an assistant at Penn, one of the best programs in the sport, she replaced longtime head coach Laura Brand Sias after last season. Facing LIU in her first ever game as a head coach, Lehman’s team delivered her a 15-9 victory after a strong start that set the tone for the contest.
A 6-1 scoring run in the first half resulted in an 8-3 lead at halftime and RU never looked back the rest of the day.
Senior captain Samantha Budd continued her standout career with a five goal performance on Saturday. An encouraging sign was that the two other multiple goal scorers were both freshman, as Jenna Byrne had 2 goals and an assist, while Cassidy Spilis scored twice. Sophomore Marin Hartshorn followed her strong rookie campaign from a year ago with a 1 goal, 4 assist effort in the opener.
Another freshman, Alonna Gliksman, earned the start in goal and made 9 saves to earn her first collegiate win in the net.
Rutgers held a 35-27 shot advantage in the contest, as well as a +13 turnover margin and +11 on ground balls.
“I loved our energy,” Lehman said. “One thing we’ve preached leading up to this game and this season is being relentless, and we caused a lot of turnovers today that led to more possessions and ultimately more shots. It felt great to get that first win for everyone involved.”
The Scarlet Knights (1-0) will next face Temple (1-0) in Philadelphia on Wednesday, February 12 at 3 p.m.