Coach prepares to declare starting goalkeeper
With less than a week left until its season opener against Manhattan, there is still no word on who will start the season as the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team’s goalkeeper. The competition has intensified throughout winter practice, and a decision is expected from head coach Brian Brecht tomorrow as to who will start.
The candidates are senior Rudy Butler, junior Steven Lusby and freshmen Kris Alleyne and Jake Andersen. Butler and Lusby split time in goal last season, with Butler starting the first five games before getting injured, giving way to Lusby, who started the last seven.
Butler went 3-2 as a starting goaltender last season, recording a .484 save percentage and a 9.6 goals-against average. Lusby went 2-5 with a .494 save percentage and an 11.12 goals-against average.
The Knights were in the bottom third of the conference last season in goals-against average, saves per game and save percentage.
Brecht has kept his options open all winter, giving each goalie as much time as possible to make his case. Scrimmages against Penn and Drexel on Saturday provided little clarity, but Brecht said the two freshmen in particular impressed him.
“It’s hard trying to bring your best every day and trying to compete with all four of the goalies,” Lusby said. “It’s just about consistency and playing your hardest every day.”
If Brecht were to make his decision based on playing experience, then Butler would be the ideal candidate. The Montgomery (N.J.) High School product has 22 games of collegiate experience, more than triple the other three candidates combined.
“I think that I’ve had the most experience on this team,” he said. “I’ve played every single year — not the entirety of the season, but I’ve gotten experience since my freshman year.”
Alleyne and Andersen may not have played a collegiate game yet, but each comes with a pedigree of his own. Alleyne earned U.S. Lacrosse All-American honors in 2012 and all-league recognition three times at Clarkston South, N.Y. High School.
Andersen compiled a .680 save percentage during his career at Hunterdon Central (N.J.) High School, earning all-state and all-conference honors as a sophomore, junior and senior.
Brecht hopes to stick with one goalie once he makes his decision. But his several options leave open the possibility of a season-long revolving door at the position, which he has not ruled out.
Whoever gets the starting nod will have the responsibility of trying to lead the Knights to their first winning season since 2007.
“I want it bad,” Butler said. “I didn’t realize until the summer ended that it was my last year playing here, and it kind of hits you pretty hard. It’s a competition all the time. No one has a starting spot until the first game, first scrimmage. You’ve got to earn your time, and it’s made everyone work a lot harder.”