Senior forward Mandi Ruth scored two goals, including the game-winning one, to lead the field hockey team to a 4-3 win against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
T-U-F-H. That’s the acronym spelled out on the field hockey team’s shirts, and it sounds just like it’s spelled – tough
The Owls (3-3) proved that toughness Sunday, as they won a 4-3 thriller against the winless Rutgers Scarlet Knights (0-6), who were ranked No. 24 last year. The win gave coach Amanda Janney her 50th career victory.
Senior forward Mandi Ruth had two goals, the bigger one of which was undoubtedly the game winner with 1 minute, 47 seconds left in the game. Senior defenseman Kristen Wanner set up the game-winning goal and put one in the net herself earlier in the game.
“We played so well together,” Ruth said. “We had a deep bench, and everybody played a big part, not just the forwards, but the [midfielders] took good shots, too.”
It wasn’t an easy road to victory, though, as the Owls spent most of the match playing catch-up. Rutgers came out scoring with senior forward Sarah Dunn on a breakout rush. Ruth answered minutes later with her first goal, dribbling through four Scarlet Knights to set up a goal from 8 yards out.
Rutgers then took over the rest of the first half, as senior forward Jessika Hoh scored back-to-back goals on the Owls.
“I told them to pick up the intensity,” Janney said. “We played flat in the first half. We had to respond to their goals, and they just needed to wake up.”
The Owls seemed to get the message, as they pressed hard in the second half.
Wanner scored a goal off a penalty corner.
Senior midfielder Charise Young set up the goal, as Wanner beat Rutgers goalkeeper Vickie Lavell’s stick side.
Mandi Ruth’s sister, Kasey, got into the act off a one-timer from sophomore forward/midfielder Bridget Settles in the 55th minute to tie things up.
Janney’s squad kept up the rush off the restart, as the Owls got a two-on-one breakaway. Junior forward Taryn Nichols passed the ball to junior midfielder Kate Delaco to set up a one-timer.
Lavell made a highlight-reel save, though, as she dove from one side of the net to the other and took the shot right off the chest and out of play.
Following a combination of turnovers and penalty corners, Rutgers coach Liz Tchou made her way onto the field, yelling at her squad and eventually receiving a penalty of her own. Temple freshman Taylor Musser caused yet another penalty corner for the Owls.
Mandi Ruth and Wanner took over from there.
Janney took into account that the Rutgers defense would key in on Ruth and called in a play that had Wanner fake the shot, then pass it to Ruth for the game winner in the last two minutes of the game.
Rutgers had one last attempt, as the Scarlet Knights forced a penalty corner as time expired.
“I was scared,” Mandi Ruth said. “We scored late, and we lost our transition. We were all on the 50-yard line, praying it was over.”
Senior defenseman Kate Stewart said the communication in the box helped end the game and seal the victory.
“Communication is a big key,” she said. “We always play well when we’re talking and when we’re switching on cutters and knowing where the forwards are.”
“The strength of our team is the depth of our bench,” Janney said. “From the seniors to the freshmen down, we utilize all our players. Our forwards got aggressive. It was just a great job to win in the attacking end.”
The Owls are off until Friday, when they play at Delaware under the lights.
Christian Audesirk can be reached at email@example.com.