No. 14 Rutgers women’s lacrosse won a crucial matchup against Big Ten foe No. 13 Michigan (9-3; 2-1) at SHI Stadium on Thursday afternoon by the score of 13-8. The start time was moved up several hours due to incoming inclement weather, but the Scarlet Knights were ready to play and improved to 10-1 on the season and 2-1 in Big Ten play. It’s their fourth win over a ranked foe this season and first double-digit win campaign since 2010.
Coming into the game, Michigan had the top scoring defense in the Big Ten and second nationally in allowing just 7.7 goals per game. The Scarlet Knights had almost that amount by halftime when they led the Wolverines 7-5 at the break.
Taralyn Naslonski is playing at the highest level of her prestigious career in her last season this spring. She led Rutgers to victory with six goals and an assist. Her seven point effort moved her into second place all-time in program history in points. She is just 10 points away from becoming the all-time leader at Rutgers.
“She just had a desire and fire in her eyes today,” Rutgers head coach Melissa Lehman said. “We just kept getting her the ball and you could tell this one meant the world to her.”
HAT TRICK! TT Naslonski converts the unassisted attempt to give us a 5-3 lead with six minutes left in the half! pic.twitter.com/d3Yhf47EOL— Rutgers Women's Lacrosse (@rutgers_wlax) March 31, 2022
Junior Cassidy Spilis scored four goals and classmate Jenna Byrne scored twice and had an assist. Sophomore Ashley Moynahan had the lone other goal but it was such an impressive score by fighting her way through the Michigan defense.
Defensively, Rutgers forced Michigan into 17 turnovers for the game and held them to just one goal during a 15 minute stretch in the second half. Meghan Ball had a game high five draw controls along with three ground balls and a caused turnover. She now has 151 draw controls in her career which ranks second all-time in program history.
Rutgers has now won eight of its last eleven games against ranked opponents dating back to last season. They are 4-1 this season so far.
“We’re just getting better and better,” said Lehman. “We spoke about how this game needed to be about us and doing the little things right, and I think we took that to heart today. I just love how our defense is jelling and getting better each game.”
The importance of this win cannot be understated. Rutgers has a legitimate chance to finish in second place in the Big Ten. Beating Michigan was essential in keeping that goal alive. If they are able to complete a program best regular season finish in Big Ten play, it would also guarantee the program back to back trips to the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever.
The Scarlet Knights are improving as the season progresses for a second consecutive year under Lehman. A strong start to this game put Rutgers in control and this team never relinquished it the entire way. It was the most impressive performance of the season for RU.
No. 14 Rutgers (10-1) will host Arizona State (4-5) on Sunday, April 3 at SHI Stadium in Piscataway. The game will start at noon and air live on Big Ten Plus.