No. 16 Rutgers field hockey won its fourth straight road game to begin the 2023 season on Friday. The Scarlet Knights earned its first ranked victory in defeating No. 15 UConn in Storrs 2-1 in a penalty shootout.
RU controlled play early as they had a 7-2 shot advantage in the first 20 minutes of action. After Rutgers missed a penalty shot, goalkeeper Sophia Howard made two saves off a penalty corner to keep the game scoreless heading into halftime.
After a little more than six minutes into the break, RU took the lead when Guillermina Causarano scored her team leading fourth goal of the season. However, the Huskies tied it up later in the third period when Julia Bressler in the 43rd minute.
Both teams went back and forth until the score remained tied 1-1 through two overtimes. After a first round of five shooters in the shootout, Rutgers and UConn had each made three. A second round saw both teams tied with one shot to go.
Paulina Niklaus delivered for RU while goalkeeper Sophia Howard helped force the UConn shot high and off target with her coverage of the net. Rutgers came away with a huge victory as Howard made nine saves in the triumph. She has a 0.46 goals-against-average and .895 save percentage so far this season.
UConn held a 21-17 shot advantage and 10-9 edge in shots on goal. The Huskies also held a 9-7 advantage on penalty corners. Even so, the Scarlet Knights persevered.
RU now owns 23 ranked victories over the past three-plus seasons and 39 overall throughout head coach Meredith Civico’s tenure.
What made this win even more impressive was that Rutgers had just finished a three game road trip in California this week. With victories over UC Davis, Stanford and Cal the Scarlet Knights were able to finish off a 2+ hour game that included two overtimes and two rounds of a shootout just four days after playing on the West Coast.
Rutgers (4-0) has now beaten UConn (1-2) three seasons in a row but won for just the fifth time in 36 all-time meetings. The two programs met in the 2018 NCAA Tournament with the Huskies winning 5-0. The progression that the Scarlet Knights have made under Civico is crystal clear when looking at their recent success against UConn.
The Scarlet Knights have a week until playing two more road games spread over three days. RU will visit Villanova on Friday, September 8 followed by in-state rival Princeton on Sunday, September 10.
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