August 18, 2019 | 74° F

Friars present challenge despite record

Two games into the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team’s four-game Big East stretch, the Scarlet Knights have seen their first two chances at a conference win slip through their fingers.

St. John’s completed a comeback two weeks ago to steal a win from the Knights in the last two seconds of the game. The Knights failed to finish a comeback of their own a week later against No. 6 Notre Dame, which got off to a five-goal lead in the first five minutes of the contest.

Providence (1-6, 0-2), at the bottom of the conference, presents the Knights’ best chance tomorrow at notching their first Big East win of the year — on paper.

But head coach Brian Brecht, who faced Providence while serving as head coach at Siena, knows what it says on paper does not guarantee a win.

“I’m expecting Providence to be a much better team than their record shows,” Brecht said. “I have played Providence the last two years in a row [at Siena]. I know they are well coached, and I know they have talented players. Their record is a bit misleading.”

Records aside, the Providence matchup is pivotal for the Knights on the road to the Big East Championships at the conclusion of the season. With only four more Big East games left in their season, the Knights (4-5, 0-2) need to win three to qualify for the postseason.

Brecht has instilled into the minds of his players how important the Providence matchup is, no matter what the Friars’ record is.

“This game against Providence is huge,” said freshman midfielder Brian Goss. “Coach [Brecht] was telling us all week during practice that we absolutely need to win these conference games.”

For Goss, the difference between their last two conference matchups and the upcoming one weekend has to be capitalizing on missed opportunities. When a team is 0-2 in the Big East because of two games decided by three goals or less, those opportunities are key, he said.

“Our biggest problem is execution. We don’t execute well enough when we need to,” Goss said. “Just looking back on these last two games, we are not taking advantage of all the opportunities we are given.”

But the Knights have more than enough victories and experience under their belts to have confidence going into the matchup against last-place Providence. Rutgers began its schedule against No. 2 Duke and owns one-goal victories against both Marist and Army. In both of their losses in the Big East, the Knights had their opponents on their heels.

The problem for the Knights is all of the victories came out of conference, and all of the valuable experiences within it. To complete his goal of making it to the Big East Championships in his first year on the Banks, Brecht knows the wins have to start coming, beginning at Providence.

“I think if we go into it prepared the same way we have been prepared against teams like Duke, … Notre Dame and St. John’s, then I think we have a great opportunity for 60 minutes to see who the better team is going to be on a Saturday night,” Brecht said.

By Vinnie Mancuso

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