Rostick, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Saturday marked the Big Ten opener for the Penn State women's lacrosse team, as they took the field against Rutgers. The Nittany Lions used a consistent offense and aggressive defense to dominate the Scarlet Knights, securing their first Big Ten victory of the year with a 16-9 win.
The team started the first half off on a strong foot. Penn State was scoring a goal almost every two minutes throughout the entire half, giving the girls a significant lead of 11-2 at the break.
Kelly Daggett, Ally Heavens, Madison Cyr, Madison Carter, Steph Lazo, Jenna Mosketti, and Maggie Gallagher all scored during the half, lending a hand in their early lead and proving that there is widespread talent across the team's offensive end.
Cyr discussed how the connections between teammates had a positive impact on the success of Penn State's offense throughout the game.
"We were all working really well together and communicating, which helped us to pick up on the assisted shots," said Cyr.
"Throughout the season we just start learning everyone's moves and what they're going to do next. It's the chemistry that the team has been building that has made us so successful," she added. "We have been working well together and everything is starting to click, which was evident today."
Penn State could not have maintained their lead in the first half if it weren't for the joint work of the defensive end. The team's defense did a great job of forcing Rutgers' attack away from the goal, and keeping them from many scoring opportunities.
"The whole defense came out ready to play. We were really pressuring, which is something we have been really back and forth with all season and we are really working on getting that pressure out on defense," said senior defender, Erika Spilker.
Goalkeeper Emi Smith also talked about the team's defensive effort, and how it helped her to stop so many of the shots taken by Rutgers.
"I think our defense really put a body on the girls and they played aggressively on the cutters. We worked on that in practice and they forced them wide again, which was great, so I was able to get my body in front of a lot of the shots," said Smith.
In the second half, Penn State maintained the lead and continued their success offensively with Carter, Lazo, and Mosketti clinching the first three goals of the half.
Rutgers netted themselves a goal following the Penn State streak in an attempt to bring themselves back in the game, but Daggett followed up with another Penn State goal to bring back their 12-goal lead.
Following the Daggett goal, Rutgers was able to make a late run and score six of the last seven goals of the game.
Spilker commented on Rutgers moves to shorten their lead, saying that even though PSU came out with a victory, their defense needs to work on keeping up the energy all the way through the end of the game.
Head coach Missy Doherty was overall satisfied with the performance she saw from her team throughout the game.
"I think our defense stepped up and did well against some of Rutgers' leading scorers. Emi had some really good saves today and I think we kept a really good tempo on offense," said Doherty.
Doherty and her players are excited to see what the rest of the season brings, as they have many tough competitors ahead and have to stay on their game as they go into the rest of the season with a 1-0 Big Ten record.
"It's going to be competitive, the Big Ten always is. We play Ohio State next weekend, who is always one of our biggest competitors, so we just want to be ready to bring our best," said Doherty.
The Nittany Lions' next contest is away at Ohio State on Saturday, April 9th, where the team will continue Big Ten play.