A year removed from the program’s first ever NCAA Tournament win last Spring, the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team is off to a 3-0 start this season and moved up three spots to No. 14 in this week’s IWLCA poll.
This past weekend, the Scarlet Knights defeated Georgetown (1-1) in a dramatic come from behind fashion to secure a 17-16 victory. RU trailed by four goals at halftime, 14-9 midway through the third period and 15-12 with just under 13 minutes left in the game. They closed out the contest with an 5-1 scoring run as Preseason All-American Cassidy Spilis scored back to back goals to seal the win.
“I’m super proud of this team,” said head coach Melissa Lehman. “We spoke at halftime about how it is a long game and we just needed to take it one play at a time and never lose heart. We competed and played for one another and were able to secure the win.”
Rutgers began the season with convincing victories over Delaware 16-8 on the road and Army 16-9 in the home opener.
The Scarlet Knights are tied for 14th nationally in scoring with a 16.33 goals per game average and tied for 15th nationally with 16.33 draw controls per contest.
St. Joseph’s transfer Stephanie Kelly has made a big impact this season so far. The 2021 Atlantic-10 Co-Offensive Player of the Year and first team all-conference selection leads the team with 16 points, including 7 goals and a team high 9 assists. She produced produced a game-high six points on three goals and three assists in the win over Georgetown.
Fellow graduate student TT Naslonski leads RU with 12 goals this season and had a hat trick last weekend against the Hoyas. She now 12 points away from becoming just the fourth player in program history to achieve 200 points in her career.
Spilis is off to a strong start in her junior campaign with 9 goals and 11 draw controls. She is only 11 points away from reaching the century mark in her career.
Kelly, Naslonski and Spilis are all shooting 50% or better this season.
Overall, nine different players have scored multiple goals this season including key returnees Ashley Campo (5 goals, 3 assists), Jenna Byrne (4 goals, 2 assists), and Marin Hartshorn (4 goals, 1 assist).
Defensively, Preseason All-American Meagan Ball leads the team with 17 draw controls, 8 ground balls and 6 caused turnovers. Sophmore goalkeeper Sophia Cardello won the first two games in the net while freshman Caleigh Forti earned her first career win against Georgetown allowing just two goals in the final 23 minutes.
Next up, Rutgers hosts Lehigh (0-1) on Saturday, February 26 at 1 p.m. ET. The game will stream on Big Ten Plus.