In a close and competitive matchup, the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team defeated Drexel 16-13 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The No. 16 Scarlet Knights (7-8, 5-7) recorded their first tournament win in program history, making their first appearance since 1999.
Rutgers opened the scoring up a little over two minutes into the first half, with sophomore attacker Jenna Byrne putting the Knights on the board. The No. 10 Dragons (13-3, 4-0) scored a pair of goals in succession to take the lead, but senior midfielder Julia Lytle kept Rutgers tied with a goal. After another goal from Drexel, Lytle answered again with her second goal to tie the game at three.
The first half saw multiple ties and lead changes, with the Dragons going into the locker room up 7-6. Byrne and Lytle scored multiple goals for the Knights before the halftime break.
Three minutes after tying the game, junior attacker Marin Hartshorn gave the Knights their first lead of the second half, cutting towards the net to finish and to make the score 9-8. This lead would be one that Rutgers would hold onto for the rest of the game.
Senior attacker Hannah Hollingsworth and sophomore defender Meghan Ball added goals to bring the lead to three, scoring just 16 seconds apart after Ball took the faceoff straight to the net after Hollingsworth’s score. After more goals from Drexel, Naslonski added her fourth goal of the game, pushing the lead back to three.
Hollingsworth then rattled off three straight goals for the Knights, keeping the lead as the Dragons attempted a late-game comeback. Sophomore midfielder Cassidy Spilis ended the scoring with her first goal of the game, securing the win and advancement for Rutgers.
Naslonski and Hollingsworth led the way with four goals each in the game. Naslonski also got very involved in the passing game, recording a team-leading three assists. Lytle added to her two-goal performance by picking up four ground balls to lead the team on defense.
With the win, the Knights advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. They will face 8th seed Stony Brook, who is hosting the tournament, at noon on Sunday.
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