There was no easing into the most anticipated season for Rutgers field hockey arguably ever. Opening the 2021 campaign on the road against No. 12 Duke without First Team All-American goalkeeper Gianna Glatz, currently in net for Team USA, with her backup Sophia Howard having zero career saves and making her first career start was an immediate challenge for the Scarlet Knights. The leadership and experience of this team shined brightly on Friday night as RU dominated play for a 3-0 victory.
The season opening win was the first for the program over an active ACC team since beating Duke in 1989 and the first win over current ACC team since beating Louisville in 2012.
After a scoreless opening frame, Rutgers took control late in the first half. In the final minute of the second quarter, the Scarlet Knights earned a penalty corner and were awarded a penalty stroke on the next play. All-American Milena Redlingshoefer delivered the team’s first goal of the season to take a 1-0 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, Rutgers scored off of a penalty corner, as Kerrie Burns redirected a shot from Redlingshoefer into the back of the net. Only four minutes later, Lucy Bannatyne launched in a reverse shot with room from the top of the circle, giving the Scarlet Knights a commanding 3-0 lead they would never relinquish. Bannatyne was one of four freshmen to make their collegiate debuts in this game and just one of two to start the contest.
Rutgers held an 11-6 shot advantage and 8-2 edge with shots on goal in the game. They held a 4-2 advantage in penalty corners.
Credit the defense, who was also without veteran leader Abby Regn, for posting the shutout despite Rutgers missing its best player in Glatz. Backup Sophia Howard came through with the first two saves of her collegiate career and delivered her first shutout on the banks.
The Scarlet Knights won its fifth straight season opening game while handing Duke its first season opening home loss since 1985.
Friday’s victory was the program’s 20th ranked win in head coach Meredith Civico’s decade long tenure at RU. It was also the 9th win over a nationally ranked team in the top 12 since 2017. The win over No. 12 Duke was also the highest ranked road victory since the Scarlet Knights defeated No. 6 Princeton on September 20, 2019.
On Saturday, Rutgers will play Richmond at 2 p.m. ET in Durham on Duke’s home field. It’s the first game of the season for the Spiders.