RU controls game with host Wagner
Rutgers head men’s lacrosse coach Brian Brecht saw the Scarlet Knights’ game against Wagner yesterday as the first real test of their mental toughness and stamina.
The Knights had only one day to prepare for the Seahawks after returning from the Carrier Dome. The Knights survived the test, handling Wagner en route to a 9-5 victory.
“I did not see any physical sluggishness at all after the quick turnaround. I thought we were very strong inside the lines,” Brecht said. “We dominated every stat. The guys should be proud of the way they handled themselves.”
The Knights’ 42-14 shot advantage was the most telling statistic of all. The Knights attack group contributed two goals on the day, with sophomores Scott Klimchak and Nicholas DePaolera each netting one.
The Knights midfield, which has seen an increase in productivity, once again paced the offense. Senior Mike Diehl and freshman Brian Goss had two goals apiece from the midfield.
Senior co-captain Will Mangan led the team, notching five points on three goals and two assists.
“The first midfield has just been special. The three of them complement each other so well,” Brecht said. “Those guys allowed us to compete with Duke, they gave us a win at the Dome against Air Force and they were the difference [yesterday], as well.”
Mangan, who Brecht sees as the indisputable leader of the offense, did not see the Knights’ shot advantage against the Seahawks as a positive. For him, a major advantage in shots should have translated into a bigger disparity in points.
“It was a pretty rough day for all of us. No one really shot the ball very well,” Mangan said. “We probably should have had a bunch more goals. I was lucky a couple of mine went in.”
But the Knights overcame the Seahawks handily in other areas of the game. Rutgers scooped up eight more ground balls than Wagner and held a 12-6 faceoff advantage over the home team. Freshman midfielder Joseph Nardella exclusively handled faceoff duties.
If the stats are any indication, the Knights do not need to change much to be competitive. Mangan is adamant the small adjustments will make the team one to look out for.
“I think we just need to clean it up a little bit. It is not anything big,” Mangan said. “We just need to shoot the ball a little better and clean up some of the sloppy turnovers. We have to make the other team earn their goals just a little bit more.”
With the quick turnaround week resulting in such an impressive performance, the questions Brecht may have had about the team he leads continue to decrease.
He now knows that no matter the time for preparation, it will show up to play.
“Anytime you can go out there and play for 60 minutes, that’s a special opportunity,” Brecht said. “I was very proud of the guys for turning in the win. Wagner did not give us anything. We had to earn it today, and we did.”