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Rutgers women’s lacrosse team falls to Penn State in opening weekend conference match

Freshman attacker Ava Kane recorded her first collegiate hat trick during the Rutgers women's lacrosse team's loss to Penn State. – Photo by

The Rutgers women’s lacrosse team fell to Penn State by a score of 9-7 on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights (4-3, 0-1) came up short in their first Big Ten contest of the season after a strong defensive performance from the Nittany Lions (5-2, 1-0).

Freshman attacker Ava Kane opened the scoring for the then-No. 22 Rutgers 2 minutes after a face-off. Approximately 5 minutes later, Kristin O'Neill leveled the game with an assist from Gretchen Gilmore. With 5:39 remaining, Kane scored her 2nd goal of the game to put the Knights ahead 2-1 heading into the second quarter.

The second quarter would be a strong defensive performance from Penn State. In the opening 5 minutes of the second quarter, junior attacker Kate Carolonza extended Rutgers’ lead to two. The Nittany Lions responded quickly, with O'Neill finding the back of the cage for the second time in the match via a power play goal.

With 8:22 remaining, O'Neill secured her hat trick to knot things up at 3-3. In the final 3 minutes, Kara Nealon put Penn State ahead 4-3 heading into halftime. The Knights struggled on offense in the second quarter, with Rutgers only managing three shots. 

O’Neill started the third quarter with her 4th goal of the match to extend the Nittany Lions lead to two. Senior midfielder Ashley Campo responded approximately 4 minutes later to cut the deficit to one. With 4:44 remaining, Ellie Hollin netted a goal to put Penn State ahead 6-4. The Nittany Lions ended the third quarter with 2 more goals to lead 8-4 heading into the final quarter.

In the opening 3 minutes of the final quarter, Kayla Abernathy scored Penn State’s 9th goal of the game. With 11:28 remaining, graduate student attacker Marin Hartshorn found the back of the net for her 1st goal of the match to make the score 9-5.

Approximately 4 minutes later, Kane secured her first collegiate hat trick and the Knights' 6th goal of the contest. Junior midfielder Mikayla Dever netted a goal with 6:02 remaining to cut the deficit to two. Rutgers' late rally was ultimately insufficient, as the Knights suffered their third consecutive defeat of the season.

Senior defender Meghan Ball finished the game with a team-leading nine draw controls. Between the goalposts, junior goalkeeper Sophia Cardello saved nine shots and surpassed a total of 300 career saves.

O'Neill was the star of the game for the Nittany Lions as she registered 5 goals to bring her season total to 23 goals.

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

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