Knights down Michigan in final home contest
On the last night that nine seniors wore the white home jerseys for the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team, the Scarlet Knights faced a lowly Michigan team, which up until this year had strictly played on a club level.
But the one-win Michigan squad did not give the seniors an easy sendoff at Yurcak Field. In a back-and-forth matchup in which the Wolverines tied it up three times and even took the lead, the Knights earned a 13-9 victory to send all nine seniors off of the field with one final home win.
“I think anytime you strap it on for 60 minutes against a different color jersey you have to be excited to play and feel hungry to earn a win,” said head coach Brian Brecht. “These nine seniors have been great all year, and they certainly will be missed. I’m very happy and pleased, and it was an honor to watch them perform on game day and grab that win in those white jerseys for their last home game.”
Still, it was the efforts of a number of Rutgers underclassmen that made the difference in the tightly contested matchup.
Freshman Brian Goss put the final nail in Michigan (1-12). With the game knotted up at nine goals apiece early in the final frame, Goss found the back of the cage to give the Knights the advantage. Rutgers (6-8,1-4) went on to score unanswered goals three more times before time expired.
The final three goals included two from redshirt-sophomore attackman Scott Klimchak, who had a very busy day with a career-high five goals and an assist.
“It was a team win,” Brecht said. “Give credit to the seniors, but some of the younger guys really stepped up. They should really be proud of the way they played and the way the represented Rutgers.”
Senior Kevin Hover took full advantage of his last night under the home field lights. The attackman recorded a hat trick after entering the game with only five goals on the season.
Hover’s first goal tied the game, 6-6, after Michigan took its only lead of the game in the second half, while his second goal less than a minute later returned the advantage to the Knights.
“Everyone funnels their emotions a little differently,” Brecht said. “Kevin seized the opportunities. He had some great shots and he stuck it when he had the opportunities.”
As he has all season, Brecht cites the one-two punch of senior midfielders Will Mangan and Mike Diehl along with Goss as the center that the entire team works around. While only Diehl and Goss found their way onto the scoreboard with a goal apiece, the Knights’ first midfield was impactful off of the stat sheet.
“The first midfield of Mangan, Diehl and Goss has been great. All eyes have been on them all year,” Brecht said. “They have really been opening up for guys like Klimchak and Hover and [sophomore attackman Nicholas] DePaolera to turn the corner and finish on goal line.”
Despite the Wolverines’ record, Brecht was not surprised about the tenacity Michigan showed.
“You talk about a big-time program that put 2.5 million dollars into their program — that is a legitimate program,” he said. “They are just starting out.”
By the same token, Brecht was not shocked to see the team was more than ready to fight to secure one last win at home for the departing seniors.
“I think we are starting out to be something special, as well,” Brecht said. “The 40 student-athletes that put on these jerseys, they will put legacy and their stamp on something as we move forward.”