The historic season for No. 11 Rutgers women’s lacrosse (16-4) continued on Friday night as they won an NCAA Tournament game for just the second time in program history. In just the third appearance ever in the NCAA Tournament, the Scarlet Knights advanced to the second round for a second consecutive year. A dominant first quarter followed by multiple contributions from role players throughout the game resulted in a 17-10 triumph over No. 23 St. Joseph’s (14-7) in the first round at Stony Brook.
Rutgers jumped out to a 3-0 lead just over 5 minutes into the game behind two goals from Cassidy Spilis and another from Kate Carolonza. After St. Joe’s got on the board midway through the opening frame, the Scarlet Knights responded with five straight goals. TT Naslonski scored back to back goals, followed by Ashley Moynahan doing the same. Carolonza added her second of the contest to end the first quarter with a stunning 8-1 lead.
The Atlantic 10 champions responded by outscoring RU 5-4 in the second quarter but never got closer than a 5 goal deficit. Rutgers led 12-6 at the half.
After St. Joe’s scored the first goal after the break, Jenna Byrne scored back to back goals to extend the RU lead to 14-7 midway through the third quarter.
11:20 Q3 | Jenna Byrne dodges hard and goes top shelf for our first goal of the second half! RU 13, SJU 7. pic.twitter.com/vAeHGpNY1y— Rutgers Women's Lacrosse (@rutgers_wlax) May 13, 2022
The Hawks battled and scored three consecutive goals to cut the Rutgers lead to 14-10 with just over 12 minutes remaining in the game. However, the Scarlet Knights finished strong with three straight goals of their own to win comfortably.
“We spoke today about starting strong and finishing strong,” said head coach Melissa Lehman. “I was so proud of the way our team performed from start to finish. There was no question that when we came out, this team was on a mission.”
Rutgers was led by the program’s all-time points leader, Taralyn Naslonski. After registering a game high seven points in the program’s first ever NCAA Tournament win last season, TT came through again with a game high six points on Friday, scoring four goals and adding two assists. Naslonski is now in second place all-time for assists. She only missed one shot on the nights, had two draw controls and one ground ball.
“We just played our game,” said Naslonski. “We wanted to come out with a fire under us and do what we do best. We were able to play Rutgers lacrosse right out the gate.”
The impressive win was a total team effort with so many big contributions in the game. Rutgers had seven players produce multiple points including Janey Galski scoring 4 goals off the bench. It was her highest scoring game of the season and eclipsed her season total coming into Friday.
11:25 Q4 | JANEY GALSKI ARE YOU KIDDING? Galski nets her first hat trick of the season off the highlight finish! We lead, 15-10. pic.twitter.com/pGRX4atImq— Rutgers Women's Lacrosse (@rutgers_wlax) May 14, 2022
Marin Hartshorn had 4 assists and Jenna Byrne also subbed in to produce 2 goals and 2 assists. Kate Carolonza had a hat trick, Ashley Moynahan scored twice as did All-American Cassidy Spilis, who extended her single season scoring record to 67 goals.
Defensively, not only did Rutgers hold St. Joe’s to a lone goal in the first quarter, they held the Hawks scoreless the final 12:14 of the game. Goalkeeper Sophia Cardello had six saves in the victory.
All-American Meghan Ball dominated as usual with a game high 10 draw controls, 5 caused turnovers and 5 ground balls. Ball set the program single season record for caused turnovers in the win, reaching 51 on the year. She passed Robin Erthal, who had 47 during the 1998 season.
“This team believes and plays with passion,” Lehman said. “We just bleed Rutgers’ pride. That’s how hard we play every time we’re out on the field. It’s awesome to make history along the way, but we’re just taking in one game at a time. We have a huge opportunity ahead of us Sunday.
The 16th victory extended the program record for most in a season and with a sixth win over a ranked foe, RU tied the record set last season.
Rutgers will face No. 8 seeded Stony Brook (15-2) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament for a second straight season. They lost last year 20-8 to Seawolves and the rematch will take place on their home turf at LaValle Stadium once again. The game begins Sunday at noon ET. Tickets can be purchased here and the game will stream on ESPN+.