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No. 1 Rutgers field hockey ends historic season with loss against Liberty

Senior midfielder Gianna Mancini and the Rutgers field hockey team fell to Liberty in a penalty shootout, ending a season that included a Big Ten Championship.  – Photo by Tom Gilbert

A record breaking season came to an end in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday for the No. 1 Rutgers field hockey team. 

No. 9 Liberty took down the Scarlet Knights (19-4, 6-2) 3-2 in a shootout at Bauer Track and Field Complex. Less than two weeks ago, the Flames (19-2, 7-0) won the Big East tournament. 

Liberty struck first on Sunday, scoring halfway through the opening quarter, while also having two penalty corners. Rutgers managed one shot in the first quarter that was saved while the Flames had the only shot in the second quarter. The score remained 1-0 going into halftime. 

The Knights found the back of the net on both its shots in the third quarter. The first goal was scored 3 minutes into the half by senior midfielder Milena Redlingshoefer on a penalty stroke. She ended her fourth season on the Banks with 28 points, 12 of which were assists. Both are good for the team-high. Redlingshoefer tied freshman midfielder Lucy Bannatyne with the team lead, 8 goals.  

Three minutes later, senior midfielder Gianna Mancini gave Rutgers a lead on her fifth goal of the season by burying an unassisted shot. Mancini tied her collegiate career high in scores.

The Knights kept the lead until Liberty scored with approximately 3 minutes remaining in regulation. Rutgers had its first penalty corner opportunity of the game in the final frame, while the Flames had three in the quarter. 

Through the first overtime period, the Knights had one shot and Liberty two. In the second extra time period, Rutgers had the lone three shots. Seven-on-seven play proved to not be enough and the teams went to penalty strokes to settle the match.

The back-and-forth shootout ended 4-2 in favor of the Flames who advanced to play No. 5 Maryland.

“Our goal was to be Big Ten champions and we accomplished that. Regardless of this result and this season's ending, no one will ever take that away from us,” said senior midfielder Katie Larmour. “It's such a testament to what this team and staff have done here. We can't forget that we made history as Big Ten champions. There's still history to be made and it's only up from here for this program.” 

The Knights hosted and won the University’s first Big Ten Championship just over a week ago. During the regular season, Rutgers won a program-best six Big Ten wins and the most regular season wins under head coach Meredith Civico with 15. 

For updates on the Rutgers field hockey team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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