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No. 8 Rutgers women’s lacrosse faces offensive battle against Monmouth

Last season, senior defender Meghan Ball earned accolades for her stellar defensive player in the Rutgers women's lacrosse team's win over No. 19 Jacksonville. – Photo by

The Rutgers women’s lacrosse team will travel to West Long Branch, New Jersey, to take on Monmouth today. The No. 8 Scarlet Knights (1-0, 0-0) are looking to remain unbeaten after a late comeback victory in their opening match against No. 19 Jacksonville.

The Hawks (1-0, 0-0) are coming off a strong 18-goal win. Shea Berigan, Caroline Brennan and Cassidy Orban all netted 4 goals each in the team's opening match.

Last season, Rutgers defeated Monmouth by a score of 19-8. The Knights are 12-3 against the Hawks and scored 212 total goals against them. Rutgers has only lost on the road at Monmouth in 2 out of 7 contests.

In the team’s win last year, senior midfielder Cassidy Spilis and graduate student attacker Taralyn Naslonski both netted 5 goals each. Graduate student attacker Stephanie Kelly provided three assists.

Senior defender Meghan Ball led the defense with eight draw controls and was named National Defensive Player of the Week as well as Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. The Knights will need to have strong attacking players to match the Hawks' offense.

Rutgers and Monmouth are offensive-based teams, with both finishing in the top three for goals per game in their respective conferences last year. Both teams also averaged 14 goals a game last season. The Hawks attempted 625 shots, with 475 of them being on goal, and the Knights managed 634 shots, with 458 being on target.

Defense is where Rutgers shines over Monmouth. Last season, the Knights conceded 214 goals to the Hawks 232. Rutgers led the Big Ten in ground balls per game with 398, while Monmouth managed 340. The Knights also caused 195 turnovers, and the Hawks caused 167 turnovers last year.

Graduate student attacker Marin Hartshorn and Naslonski will need to attempt shots and get them on target to outscore Monmouth. In midfield, Spilis must continue helping the attack in scoring goals as well as helping the defense in causing turnovers. Kelly will need to continue passing the ball and providing assists.

In addition, Ball must cause turnovers for the Hawks and scoop up ground balls to gain possession for Rutgers. Junior goalkeeper Sophia Cardello will face many shots from a strong Monmouth offense and must continue her strong performances in the net.

The Knights must be cautious of Brennan and Orban, as the duo combined for a total of 90 goals last season. Rutgers must also keep the Hawks from scoring more than 13 goals. Last season, Monmouth did not score more than 13 goals in all of their defeats. 

The game will begin at 2 p.m. today at Kessler Stadium in West Long Branch, New Jersey.

For more updates on the Rutgers women's lacrosse game, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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