This past Thursday, the No. 6 Rutgers Scarlet Knights field hockey team defeated No. 8 Maryland in a penalty shootout, 3-2. With the win, Rutgers improves to a perfect 10-0, 2-0 in the conference, while Maryland drops to 7-3, 0-1. The Scarlet Knights are the nation's only D1 undefeated field hockey squad after No. 1 Iowa fell to No. 10 Ohio State this past Friday.
This begs the question. Is Rutgers now a field hockey school? I admit that when I covered the field hockey team in the late 1980s for the Daily Targum, I had little knowledge of what I was watching. Over three decades later, I’ve come full circle and now better understand the quirky rules and fully appreciate the talent put on display. To go one further, my current audiobook, The Broken Girls by Simone St. James, is set at a haunted girl’s boarding school, where, you guessed it, terrible things happen on the field hockey field.
Back to the match, which started poorly for the Knights, as Maryland’s Margot Lawn scored in the third minute to give the Terps an early 1-0 advantage. Rutgers would find the equalizer in the second period on Julianne Kopec's goal off an assist from Indy Van Ek and a little help from the Terps defender. The teams would enter the half knotted at 1-1.
Ninety seconds into the third period, All-American candidate Guillermina Causarano would put the Knights up 2-1 on her team-leading eighth goal of the season. The Terps would claw back, though, as Maci Bradford put a shot past keeper Sophia Howard on a breakaway in the 39th minute to even the match up, 2-2. The teams would play a scoreless fourth period and two overtimes, and the match would head to a penalty shootout to decide the winner.
The Terps would go up, 1-0, after the first round of the shootout. The Knights would tie it up in the second round off a make by Marique Dieudonne. Iris Langejans beat Terps keeper Paige Kieft in the third round, to put the Knights up 3-2. I got a chuckle watching the clip below, comparing the announcer’s pronunciation of Iris’s name versus the stadium announcer.
A thrilling penalty shootout victory for #RUFH over No. 8 Maryland!— Rutgers Field Hockey (@RUFieldHockey) September 28, 2023
⚔️4th ranked win this season (1st top-10 win)
⚔️ 12th top-10 win since 2021
⚔️ 2-1 in last 3 vs. Maryland, both being top-10 wins
⚔️ 10-0 overall, 2-0 in Big Ten
Recap: https://t.co/YqDL3JEySa pic.twitter.com/jHsY5ahsAg
In the final round. Rutgers’s Paulina Niklaus’ shot went wide of goal so it came down to Maryland’s Nathalie Fiechter versus Sophia Howard. Howard was able to make the stop and her teammates rushed towards her in jubilation as the Scarlet Knights remained perfect on the season.
“We had really amazing moments of hockey throughout the game. I’m so proud of the way the team kept fighting. There’s a belief with this group unlike any other that I’ve ever known. They just keep going no matter what the situation is, they just don’t stop. That’s evident in the way we won this game in shootouts, it’s really incredible.”
Head Coach Meredith Civico
“We had experience in penalty shootouts before, so when we got there, we knew what we needed to do and did it. This team is amazing. We come every day and give all we have. We push each other. Everyone is so committed to the cause and the team goal. There’s a lot of love amongst this team and it keeps us going.”
Captain and Goalie Sophia Howard
- This was just the second home game of the season for the Knights, who are a perfect 8-0 on the road and now 2-0 at home
- Rutgers now has five ranked wins this season as they continue to strengthen their post-season resume
- Rutgers earned its first top-10 win of the season and first since a 2-1 win over No. 3 Northwestern last season on October 8
- It was RU’s 12th top-10 win since the spring 2021 season
- It was just the fifth win against Maryland for Rutgers, who is now 5-35-1 but 2-1 in the last three matches
The Scarlet Knights host No. 15 Michigan Friday at 3 pm and Monmouth Sunday at 1 pm next weekend as they look to remain unbeaten and pick up another ranked win.