When the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team enters the Big Ten next year, Penn State will become one of the Scarlet Knights closest rivals.
For now, the Nittany Lions (3-3) pose another tough nonconference test for the Knights today in Piscataway.
Rutgers (3-3) is looking to rebound after dropping its last two games to ranked opponents by a combined score of 20-7.
Penn State represents another shot at taking down a ranked team, as the Nittany Lions are currently ranked 11th.
Led by the duo of Mackenzie and Madison Cyr on attack, Penn State enters the contest averaging 13 goals per game.
The Cyr sisters have collected 29 points for a balanced attack line that features four players who have scored 10 or more goals, including returning All-American Maggie McCormick.
The Knights’ defense, which allowed 14 goals in its last match, knows it needs to improve in order to stay close in games.
“They’re a very athletic team so we’re working on staying with their cutters and shutting down their top players,” said senior defender Chelsea Intrabartola.
The Knights have planned for Penn State’s dynamic offense. One-on-one drills have been implemented, along with executing clear attempts in order to get the ball back to the offense.
Head coach Laura Brand-Sias said that the team has gone through a series of “reality checks” over the past couple of days after losing two games in a row.
“We need to work harder outside of practice to develop some individual skills,” she said. “We’ve been lacking in that area.”
Offensive rhythm is key to staying competitive against top teams like Penn State. The longer the offense has the ball, the less the defense will be under pressure, according to Brand-Sias.
The attack line continues to rotate in players each game, and the Knights will go with another new starting lineup today in an attempt to find that offensive spark.
“We’re going to keep making changes until we find who has the right chemistry to get the ball in the net,” Brand-Sias said.
While it may seem that the Knights are struggling to find the answers right now, the veteran-heavy team is both calm and confident that it will get the job done against Penn State
Intrabartola, like the rest of her senior class, goes into every game with the attitude that it is a “must-win.” They realize the importance of this contest in turning around their season.
“This is the first time we’re playing Penn State, and it would be good for the morale of the team to come out with a win,” Intrabartola said.
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