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Rutgers women’s sports teams on the rise

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Here is a summary of how the Scarlet Knights are performing across almost a dozen sports all competing right now.

Johns Hopkins Athletics

It was an impressive weekend as a whole with so many Rutgers women’s teams performing so well. It’s a crazy time right now with fall sports playing at the same time as winter and spring sports as well. In an effort to cover it all, here are summaries for almost a dozen women’s teams that have all had some level of recent success and are trending in the right direction.

Basketball

The Scarlet Knights have won eight straight after sweeping Penn State over a three day period are ranked no. 24 in this week’s AP Poll. They’ve now held opponents under 60 points in the last seven games. That’s the first time they’ve ever done that in Big Ten play and the last time the program accomplished that feat was in the 2007-08 season when Rutgers went to the Elite Eight.

Arella Guirantes is the only player in the Big Ten to rank in the top five for points, assists, steals and blocks. She was named one of five finalists for the Ann Meyers Drysdale Shooting Guard Award on Tuesday and is also being considered for multiple national player of the year awards. Diamond Johnson is averaging 18.8 points per game and challenging to break the program’s freshman scoring record held by Cappie Pondexter (18.3 ppg).

RU hosts No. 22/20 Ohio State on Senior Day at the RAC this Friday, March 5 at 8 p.m. and it will air live on ESPN. With a record of 13-3 overall and 9-3 in Big Ten play, as well as a NET ranking of 12, Rutgers is in great shape for the NCAA Tournament.

Lacrosse

Head coach Melissa Lehman led RU to a weekend sweep of then no. 19 Ohio State and have now won three Big Ten games in a season for the first time in program history. At 3-1, they are ranked no. 14 in the IWLCA Coaches Poll, no. 14 in the Inside Lacrosse Poll, and no. 18 by US Lacrosse Magazine. It’s a remarkable start to the season after being picked to finish last in the Big Ten preseason coaches poll. Sophomore Meghan Ball was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for her standout performances last weekend. The Scarlet Knights play no. 21 Michigan on Friday, March 5 and Sunday, March 7 on the road in Ann Arbor.

Soccer

After opening the season with a come from behind 3-2 victory over Big Ten preseason favorite Penn State, the Scarlet Knights suffered a 1-0 overtime loss at Indiana. However, they responded with a 1-0 victory at Purdue last Sunday. Senior Gabby Provenzano scored the game winner and was assisted by a pair of freshmen, Sara Brocious and Sam Kroeger. Junior goalkeeper Meagan McClelland recorded the 21st shutout victory of her career. The Scarlet Knights (2-1) will host Michigan State on Thursday, March 4 and Ohio State on Sunday, March 7.

Field Hockey

The Scarlet Knights opened the season with back to back wins last weekend. Last Friday, they defeated Indiana 3-0 with goals from Liz Romano, Milena Redlingshoefer, and Bridy Molyneaux. Gracey Butsack added two assists and goalkeeper Gianna Glatz made one save combining for the shutout with backup Sophia Howard. On Sunday, Rutgers defeated Ohio State 2-1 in overtime with Kassidy Shetler scoring the first goal and Redlinshoefer delivering the game winner in the extra session. Glatz made four saves in the game and was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week.

It’s the first time Rutgers opened Big Ten play with consecutive victories since the 2017 season. The Scarlet Knights remain in Virginia Beach, where the conference is playing the first two weeks of the season, to take on Iowa on Friday, March 5 and take on Ohio State again on Sunday, March 7.

Volleyball

While the Scarlet Knights are just 2-10 this season in Big Ten play, they’re one victory away from matching the program’s win total from the previous six years. First year head coach Caitlin Schweihofer has led major improvement already this season. They defeated Indiana in four sets for the first time in program history in the third match of the season and defeated Iowa in five sets on the road on February 20. They also took one set from no. 4 Nebraska on February 13 and just lost to no. 19 Ohio State in five sets this past Saturday.

No program struggled as much as volleyball did since joining the Big Ten with just a 3-117 record before this season. You can watch Schweihofer discuss this team’s progress in this video from Saturday night’s five set loss to the nationally ranked Buckeyes.

Their scheduled matches this coming weekend against Michigan have been postponed due to COVID-19 positive results with the Wolverines. They are set to face no. 10 Penn State in Happy Valley on March 12 and 13.

Gymnastics

This is another program that was non-competitive for years since joining the Big Ten that is making major progress under third year head coach Umme Salim-Beasley. After earning the program’s highest ranked win ever against no. 15 Auburn last season, Rutgers has continued to improve this season. They beat Nebraska on the road on February 7 and in a loss to no. 10 Minnesota on February 20, the Scarlet Knights produced its highest team road score and third highest ever in program history. At last weekend’s Big Five meet, senior Belle Huang and sophomore Hannah Joyner finished second and third out for forty-two gymnasts to compete in the the all-around. They’ll face Maryland on Wednesday, March 3 in College Park.

Softball

Rutgers opened its season Leesburg, Florida last weekend and had three two-game series’ with Big Ten foes. After losing twice to both Illinois and Northwestern, the Scarlet Knights closed the weekend out with two wins over Purdue by the scores of 6-5 and 12-9. Izzy Berouty won both games in relief while Payton Lincavage was 5 of 9 from the plate with 3 runs scored. Gabrielle Callaway was 3 of 8 with 2 RBI’s and 2 runs. Kiana Workman scored the winning run of the second game and was 3 of 4 in the victory. The Scarlet Knights 92-4) remain in Leesburg, Florida for a three game series against both Minnesota and Indiana from Friday, March 5 through Sunday, March 7.

Track & Field

At the Big Ten Indoor Championships this past weekend in Geneva, Ohio, Rutgers had several standout performances on the women’s side. Redshirt junior Courteney Campbell won silver in the high jump with a height of 1.78m (5’ 10”). She is the school record holder in the high jump (indoor) and was named Second Team All-Big Ten. Freshman Ka’ Leila Abrille broke a school record in the pole vault with a height of 4.20m (13’ 9.25”) to finish in third place and claim the bronze medal. It’s the third time this season she broke and reset the school record.

Other notable performances were redshirt freshman Claudine Smith finishing fourth in the triple jump with a distance of 12.48m (40’ 11.5”), redshirt sophomore Icisys Sadler finishing fourth in the 60-meter hurdles with a personal best of 8.45, which was also the second-fastest time in the event in school history. In addition, redshirt sophomore Reanda Richards finished fifth in the 400-meter with a time of 54.60 and redshirt sophomore Jasmine Van Note set a school record in the shot put for the second time this season with a distance of 15.64m (51’ 3.75”).

Swimming & Diving

The Big Ten Championships took place last weekend, which you can read about here. Junior diver Jenna Douglass is set to compete in 1-meter in the NCAA Zone A Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina on March 11. The top four finishers will qualify for the NCAA Championships. Douglass finished 24th at the Zone A competition last season.