Rutgers earns first conference win of season in extra period
The first Big East win of the season eluded the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team for consecutive weeks.
Not only could the Scarlet Knights not score that pivotal first conference win, but they also saw opportunities slip out of their reach.
The third time proved to be the charm for the Knights on Saturday, as Rutgers overcame Providence in Rhode Island in overtime for an 8-7 win.
It began with a heartbreaking last-second loss to St. John’s two weeks ago, followed a week later by a failed comeback attempt against No. 6 Notre Dame.
Sophomore attackman Scott Klimchak, who notched four goals, paced the Knights (5-5, 1-2). The Clark, N.J., native’s final goal came less than five minutes into the overtime period, sealing the win for Rutgers.
“I felt like I was getting open inside a lot and they were finding me in there all day,” Klimchak said. “Me and [junior attackman] Duncan Clancy were working very well together. The middies did really well again, so we were just getting open the whole game.”
The overtime period took place after the Friars (1-7, 0-3) grabbed a 7-6 lead early in the fourth quarter. Senior midfielder Will Mangan’s first goal of the game with eight minutes left in the contest proved to be a crucial one for the Knights, knotting the game up at seven goals apiece.
Freshman goalkeeper Steven Lusby, who ended the game with 13 saves for the second week in a row, held strong until the final horn sounded.
“It was a pretty intense game, and we knew we couldn’t lose another one-goal, close game, especially in the Big East,” Klimchak said. “We knew we had to finish this one and not have to go back home on the bus with another loss. It was a feeling of calm going into overtime.”
The Knights, who usually present a midfield-oriented offensive approach, saw increased productivity from their attack throughout the game. Clancy and sophomore attackman Nicholas DePaolera, who each notched a goal of their own, supported Klimchak’s banner game. DePaolera’s goal set the tempo early, getting the Knights on the board first less than two minutes into the matchup.
“The attack is doing well again this year, even though we are running our offense a little more through the midfield with Mangan and [senior Mike] Diehl,” Klimchak said “This past game, we played really well together.”
The win against Providence marks the first step on the road to the Big East Tournament at the culmination of the season. To qualify, the Knights need at least three wins in conference play. With only three Big East games left on Rutgers’ schedule, every win is crucial.
Keeping this in mind, the Knights feel the first win in league play against Providence is invaluable when it comes to their confidence for the rest of the season.
“It is really good for us to get the first one under our belt,” Klimchak said. “We know that we still have a bunch of games left in the Big East to play. If we can win at least two more of them, we can make the tournament at the end of the year.”