August 17, 2019 | 84° F

Seniors hope for rebound against UM

Photo by Noah Whittenburg |

Senior midfielder Mike?Diehl is third on the team in goals and fourth in points, with 18 and 21, respectively.

With its loss to Syracuse last Saturday marking the fourth conference defeat this season, the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team saw any chance of making the Big East Tournament slip away.

With two games left in the season, head coach Brian Brecht has been adamant the team still has plenty to play for.

When the Scarlet Knights host Michigan tomorrow, nine seniors play on the grass of Yurcak Field for the final time. For Brecht, that should be more than enough inspiration.

“We are going to have a good week and get healthy and perform on game day for 60 minutes, so we can send these seniors out with a win in their last home game wearing those white jerseys,” Brecht said.

But the road to Yurcak for the seniors and their teammates will be one of recovery. The 19-6 loss against the Orange not only took away the Knights’ (5-8) chances at a tournament appearance, but it was also the most lopsided loss of their season. For an added punch to the gut for the senior class, it lost a chance to beat Syracuse for the first time.

But with a full week of preparation for Michigan (1-11), Brecht hopes the team can look past the rout at Syracuse.

“We had an opportunity to beat Syracuse. [The seniors] are 0-4 against Syracuse in all four years,” Brecht said. “The nice thing is that time heals a lot of things. We have a whole week to prepare for Michigan.”

But for a large portion of the Knights roster, the week is about more than getting ready for the Wolverines. Four senior co-captains — midfielders Will Mangan, Zachary Zenda and Nicholas Zerillo and defenseman Jacob Fradkin — are among those playing at home for the last time. Mangan is the team’s leading goal scorer with 26.

The captains and their classmates are prepared to end their home careers the right way, Brecht said.

“We talk about this all the time. Our seniors are leaving this program, and what is their legacy going to be?” Brecht said. “You do not want to leave as a senior lacrosse player and not really take care of Senior Night.”

Senior Mike Diehl — another top scorer alongside fellow Mangan — is among those still reeling from the Syracuse loss. But entering his final Yurcak appearance, Diehl’s only goal now is to complete his senior year with pride.

“[Syracuse] was definitely upsetting, especially since we cannot make it into the Big East Tournament now,” Diehl said. “But we have to focus on Michigan and Georgetown [next Friday] and try and finish out the season strong.”

More than 30 underclassmen teammates are as inspired to send their senior leaders out of their last home performance with a win.

“It is not only the nine seniors, but it is everyone else,” Brecht said. “It is the 31 other players — freshman, sophomores and juniors. There should be a lot of pride and a lot of passion and excitement.”

By Vinnie Mancuso

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