It was an historic day for the No. 24 Rutgers women’s lacrosse team, as they defeated No. 13 Penn State (4-7) in thrilling fashion on Thursday at SHI Stadium. Trailing by two goals early in the second half, the Scarlet Knights came back to defeat PSU 17-16 to earn its highest ranked win in 9 years. It the was also the first victory over the Nittany Lions in program history.
Grace Curran keyed a 6-2 scoring run to begin the game before Penn State tied it 8-8 heading into halftime. After Olivia Dirks scored twice after the break to put the Nittany Lions in the lead at 10-8, the Scarlet Knights responded with a 4-0 scoring run to regain the lead.
PSU then went on to cut the lead to one goal on four separate occasions. Maria Auth scored with 1:05 left to make it a 17-16 game and PSU quickly got the ball back for the final possession with a chance to tie it. It was senior captain Julia Lytle that saved the day for Rutgers, drawing a charge to turn over Penn State to secure the victory.
”Today was an awesome team win and I’m really proud of this group,” said head coach Melissa Lehman. “We spoke about starting strong and we started the game with a lot of intensity and finished with a lot of energy. It was a full 60 minutes for us.”
Rutgers was led by Marin Hartshorn and Jenna Byrne, who each scored four goals. Cassidy Spilis scored three goals, while Taralyn Naslonski and Grace Curran contributed with two goals and two assists each. Freshman goalkeeper Sophia Cardello made seven saves for her second win of the season in the net.
Rutgers is now 4-7 playing a Big Ten only schedule and is set to move up the national rankings. Sophomores Meghan Ball and Cassidy Spilis have led the way this season and were named Inside Lacrosse Midseason All-Americans, announced last week. They’re also both included on the Tewaaraton Award watch list.
The Scarlet Knights will next host no. 11 Maryland on Sunday, April 18 for senior day 3 p.m. ET.