Knights deliver Brecht first home win of career
When the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team left the field after its loss to Maryland-Baltimore County two weeks ago, the looks on the faces of the players and head coach Brian Brecht told the story.
After being handled for a full four quarters in front of a capacity crowd in the first home-opener of Brecht’s career as the head coach of the Scarlet Knights, two emotions were running high in the locker room: anger and embarrassment.
The Knights returned to the RU Turf Field on Saturday, and a combination of the emotions from their home opener led to their first win at home this season, a 9-6 win against Lafayette.
“It definitely feels like redemption,” said senior co-captain Will Mangan. “We were pretty embarrassed after the home opener. Coach Brecht always says people pay good money to come see us, and we owe them a good game. We did not give that to them last week. It was good to have a much better performance this week.”
The head coach said he could see a marked change in his team before it even stepped foot on the field. After their embarrassing home opener, the Knights could not wait to leave the locker room.
“I thought first and foremost we were ready to play this game,” Brecht said. “I could tell they were chomping at the bit to get out of the locker room and play today, where sometimes you have to push them out of the locker room. That was encouraging before the whistle even blew.”
The high-running emotions were apparent from the moment the whistle blew to begin the game. While Lafayette drew first blood, Rutgers responded with four straight goals in the first frame alone.
Among the early scores were goals from Mangan, fellow senior midfielder Mike Diehl and their freshman support Brian Goss. Junior attackman Duncan Clancy also got into the mix with his first goal of the season.
“The main difference was that we got up on them early, which is big,” Mangan said. “Any time you can get an early lead, it really changes the momentum of the game. It was huge for us.”
The Rutgers offense was led by Mangan and redshirt sophomore Scott Klimchak, who each found the back of the cage twice.
Rutgers took full advantage of its’ man-up opportunities throughout the contest, going 2-for-3 with a man advantage. On the other side of the field, Lafayette was just 1-for-5 on man-up opportunities.
“I give a lot of credit to the man-down unit. The man-down unit was outstanding,” Brecht said. “The man-up unit gave us two good goals. In a three-goal game, that helped separate us, and that is what we needed.”
The Knights will need to keep the emotions running high, as they face a physical challenge this week. Rutgers has a quick turnaround, hitting the road on Tuesday to face Army at West Point.
“Anytime you have a quick turnaround, it doesn’t matter who you are playing, it is tough,” Mangan said. “Especially going up to play Army, they are one of the toughest teams we are going to play all year. They always play hard, and it is going to be a big game for us.”