On a steamy Friday afternoon in Piscataway, the eighth-ranked Scarlet Knights and No. 18 Blue Devils squared off in the “Battle of the Banks” tournament. It was the season opener for both squads and the Blue Devils ultimately prevailed on penalty strokes after the teams were knotted 1-1 at the end of 80 minutes. The game was halted at the start for 45 minutes due to lightning.
Duke struck first in the 2nd quarter after Brynn Crouse took the rebound off a blocked shot by Knights sophomore keeper Sophia Howard and found the back of the net for a 1-0 lead. The Knights countered just 40 seconds later when senior Rachel Houston was able to cleanly gather the loose ball off a kicked save and fire in a goal past Duke goalkeeper Piper Hampsch, who was caught out of position.
The teams would then go scoreless for the next 60 minutes, including two periods of overtime. Duke would ultimately prevail on penalty shots.
It was a hard fought batter for the Scarlet Knights, who took their first opening season loss since 2016. This is an extremely young Rutgers team, The Knights saw six players make their collegiate debut: Marique Diuedonne, Puck Winger, Elise Pettisani, Oilvia Weir, Indy van Ek and Vicky Jure.
Playing a tough schedule early in the season (an approach I am a big fan of outside of any sport except football) will ultimately help prepare the young Knights for a daunting regular season slate that incudes #16 Saint Josephs on Sunday. 11 of the remaining 16 games are against currently ranked opponents, including #1 juggernaut Northwestern. It should be a fun season on the banks for the defending Big Ten champs, with the goal squarely on another NCAA tourney bid.
The ‘Battle on the Banks Tournament’ continues Saturday with a neutral site contest at 2 p.m. between #18 Duke and No. 16 St. Joseph’s. RU will then play the Hawks on Sunday at 4 p.m. to finish off the weekend. (Courtesy Rutgers Athletics).