PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The No. 23 Rutgers field hockey team earned its highest ranked win of the season Saturday in a massive victory, taking down No. 3 ranked and the defending national champion Northwestern Wildcats, 2-1. Indy van Ek and Iris Langejans scored goals in the opening quarter for RU, and the defense held on to the lead their to secure the victory.
The game was part of RU's weekend full of celebrations in honored of the 50th anniversary of Title IX, presented by adidas. The Scarlet Knights, who wore special Title IX warmups pregame, also hosted a large contingent of alumni for a pregame brunch and a postgame barbecue. The large group of alumns, which spanned multiple generations, was recognized pregame in the anthem walkout, and help create a raucous atmosphere which fueled the team in the victory.
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"I'm so proud of the team and Rutgers field hockey and our program," head coach Meredith Civico said. "This team has been really building, game after game. We had a rough weekend last weekend and didn't perform to our capabilities. We took a look and learned from that and made some adjustments. We knew if we put together a complete performance today, we can do anything. Northwestern is defending national champions, they are No. 2 in the RPI, so it's a huge win in so many ways. I'm proud of the team and the way they've grown game-to-game. Today they proved to themselves that they can do anything if they play smart, stick with the game plan and play together."
The Scarlet Knights led 12-10 in shots and were even, 5-5, on corners. Sophia Howard made three saves in the victory.
Rutgers got out to an early lead, scoring twice in the opening 10 minutes of the game. Indy van Ek put RU on the scoreboard first with an excellent individual play. Taking the ball down the left side of the field, van Ek split a pair of defenders, stickhandled to the middle of the field, and then around the goalkeeper to fire home an early goal. RU took the lead just five minutes into the contest.
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Shortly after, RU extended that lead to 2-0. RU earned a penalty stroke, and Iris Langejans converted for a two-goal lead.
At halftime, RU led 2-0. The Scarlet Knights played a strong half, leading 8-4 in shots at the break.
In the third quarter, Northwestern got on the board for the first time. The Wildcats earned a penalty stroke of their own and scored on it to cut the lead to 2-1. However, the defense clamped down from there, holding the Wildcats down and clinching the massive victory.
"I'm so proud of this team for today, and it was such a great day to have so many alumns back with us," Civico explained. "To be on the field with them pregame and the energy was just incredible. Spending even just 10 minutes in a room with all of those alumns just ignited my energy and was just what we needed before this game. It was really special to have everyone back for this day."
🏆 HISTORY: Click here to see all the field hockey champions in history
The game against No. 3 Northwestern marked the second in a streak of six consecutive games for RU against ranked opponents. The Scarlet Knights will face four more ranked foes to close out the regular season (No. 2 Maryland and No. 11 Syracuse on the road, then No. 5 Penn State and No. 17 James Madison at home). The team's next game comes next Sunday, a 4 p.m. game against the Terps that will be nationally televised by the Big Ten Network.
The victory over No. 3 Northwestern represented
- Four wins in the past five meetings with Northwestern
- Each win came with Northwestern ranked No. 4 or higher
- The win tied a previous win over No. 3 Northwestern for the highest ranked win in the regular season in RU program history
- The only higher ranked win for RU came last season over No. 2 Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament championship game.
- After starting the all-time series 0-5, RU is now 5-3 in the last eight meetings in the series.
- Rutgers' fourth ranked win of the season
- Rutgers' highest ranked win this season
- After a program record 13 ranked wins last season, RU now has 36 ranked wins all times, all of them coming under head coach Meredith Civico and 33 of them coming since the start of the 2017 season.
- Northwestern's first road loss of the season.
- Northwestern's Bente Baekers entered the game with 18 goals through 12 games, leading the nation. RU held her goal-less for just the third time this season and without a point for just the second time.