No. 1 Rutgers field hockey lost a heartbreaker to No. 9 Liberty (19-2) on 3-2 in a penalty shootout at Bauer on Sunday. The NCAA Tournament quarterfinals loss ended the most successful season in program history.
Liberty, the Big East champions, led the nation with 3.84 goals per game entering the NCAA Tournament. The Rutgers defense held them to just two goals, but it wasn’t enough.
The Flames scored a goal in the first quarter off of a corner that was initially blocked but was kept alive before Charlotte Vaanhold finished the play.
With Rutgers trailing 1-0 into the third quarter, Milena Redlingshoefer and Gianna Mancini each scored within three minutes apart to take control of the game. Redlingshoefer scored her eight goal of the season off of a penalty shot and Mancini scored her fifth goal unassisted.
The Scarlet Knights held the lead until Liberty tied it with just over three minutes left in regulation. The Flames had an extra player to pressure the RU defense as they pulled their goalkeeper with their season on the line. All-American Jill Bolton scored her 18th goal of the season off of a deflection to tie the game.
Rutgers had a final penalty corner attempt in the closing seconds of regulation but were unable to finish.
With the teams playing seven aside in overtime, the pace of the game picked up. Rutgers was the aggressor in the second overtime session and had three penalty corners but were unable to score.
In the penalty shootout, Rutgers goalkeeper Gianna Glatz made one save but the Scarlet Knights missed two shots to fall 4-2.
Rutgers finished the season at 19-4, producing four more wins in a season than ever before in program history. They also defeated 13 ranked teams, five of which were in the top ten, both program records. After a program best second place regular season finish in Big Ten play, they won the school and programs first ever Big Ten Tournament championship. Earning the fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, the Scarlet Knights won its third ever NCAA Tournament game with a First Round win over Delaware.
“Everything we’ve done to this point has been so meaningful,” Katie Larmour said. “Our goal was to be Big Ten champions and we accomplished that. Regardless of this result and this season’s ending, no one will ever take that away from us. It’s such a testament to what this team and staff have done here. We can’t forget that we made history as Big Ten champions. There’s still history to be made and it’s only up from here for this program. I’m so proud of all these girls.”
“The team played hard and that is what tournament hockey is like,” head coach Meredith Civico said. “Every game is tight and every team is a quality one. I’m just really proud of grateful for these players, especially the seniors that returned for an extra year for what they’ve done to put our program in this position. To be a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament when four years ago we were just clawing to get in. Being the first Big Ten Tournament champions here at Rutgers, having the most wins in a season, most ranked wins in a season, this team has made history. They’ve had a tremendous amount of success. It didn’t break our way in this game, but that doesn’t take away what we’ve accomplished.”