Rutgers suffers lopsided defeat against ’Cuse
The Rutgers men’s lacrosse team had a laundry list of things to worry about entering the ESPNU Warrior Classic last Saturday in Charlotte, N.C.
In front of a nationally televised audience as well as 6,230 live fans, the Scarlet Knights had the unenviable task of taking on 13th-ranked Syracuse in the opening game.
To top it all off, if the Knights did not come away with the win, they would not qualify for the Big East Tournament at the conclusion of the season.
Whether it was the pressure, the power of the Orange or a combination of the two, Rutgers lost, 19-6, effectively ending its conference postseason hopes.
“We got stung pretty hard. I’m not going to candy coat it, we are not doing well,” said head coach Brian Brecht. “That was a tough loss. It was a great day, we had a great crowd on national television and Syracuse just gave it to us. We are licking our wounds right now.”
The Knights got off to a promising start, drawing first blood with a goal from freshman midfielder Brian Goss three minutes into the contest. Two minutes later, sophomore attackman Nick DePaolera responded to a Syracuse goal with one of his own, giving the Knights a 2-1 advantage.
It was the last time Rutgers led for the remainder of the contest. Syracuse fired off 12 unanswered goals past sophomore goalkeeper Steven Lusby in the span of three quarters.
Brecht, who watched the dismantling from the sidelines, was realistic in his view of what occurred. He could not help but notice that the Orange were simply the superior opponents at the Warrior Classic.
“Syracuse is just that much better of a program than we are right now,” Brecht said. “We have some individual guys that work hard and are pretty talented, but from top to bottom we did not have a lot of answers for [Syracuse].”
The stat sheet from the Warrior Classic may as well have been painted orange, as Syracuse dominated nearly every aspect of it. In their most productive offensive output of the year, the Orange were a perfect 18-for-18 on clear attempts. They also picked up 18 more ground balls than the Knights and had more than 20 more shots on goal, while Rutgers committed more turnovers.
“They outshot us, they outballed us, they kicked our butts facing off,” Brecht said. “They beat us in the clearing game. Every stat you look at — including the scoreboard — came up orange. It is very humbling.”
The members of Brecht’s squad felt they were prepared entering the Warrior Classic and were blindsided by the offensive power of the Orange.
Senior midfielder Mike Diehl, usually one of the Knights’ most effective offensive leaders, was shut down throughout the contest with zero points.
Diehl echoed the disappointment of the entire team at the result.
“Syracuse played very well. They played well in transition and they finished really well, too,” he said. “This was definitely a tough one. We came out with excitement, and the effort was there. We just did not execute well.”