RU hosts highly ranked Tigers
The Rutgers men’s lacrosse team has the challenge of breaking an eight-game losing streak against a top-10 team — No. 9 Princeton.
“This is a great opportunity for us playing against a top-10 team at home under the lights,” said head coach Brian Brecht.
The Scarlet Knights (2-9, 0-4) have lost their last three games by a total of four goals, with each of those games decided in the final minute of regulation or overtime.
Rutgers’ level of play in recent weeks has improved as it has taken two of the Big East’s top teams to the final minutes.
Princeton (6-3, 2-1) is coming off a loss Saturday against Syracuse, 13-12. The Tigers lead the all-time series against Rutgers, 58-29-3, in a rivalry that dates back to 1922.
Defensively the Knights will have to perform better than usual, as Princeton’s offense ranks among the best in the nation. The Tigers rank fifth in assists per game and eighth in goals per game.
The Knights may be able to counter Princeton’s attack if it can control face-offs.
Sophomore midfielder Joseph Nardella could be Rutgers’ way of doing so.
The face-off specialist played well against Villanova, as he won 17 of 24 possible face-offs against the Wildcats.
Nardella has taken the majority of the face-offs for the Knights and wins about 66 percent of them. Princeton wins just less than half of its face-offs, which may give Rutgers the chance to really control the tempo and pace of the game.
“[I’m] very confident with [freshman goalkeeper] Kris [Alleyne] and Joe to keep us in every game with how well they’ve been playing all year,” Brecht said. “Joe has been one of the leaders in the nation at what he does and with face-offs being such a tough area to control game-by-game, hopefully he can stay hot.”
But the Knights might be without one of them, as Alleyne may not be able to play.
Alleyne has started every game so far this season, but left Saturday’s game against Villanova with an undisclosed upper-body injury. He will be a game-time decision, but Brecht is optimistic about his status for the game.
“With a guy like Kris, you know you have a guy who can make multiple stops and generate offense on the counter-attack,” Brecht said. “The team doctors are very optimistic about Kris and I was excited to hear the good news after practice.”
Rutgers has several capable scorers to compensate for Alleyne’s absence between the pipes.
Junior attack Scott Klimchak keys the offense, leading the team in goals scored.
Scott’s twin brother, junior midfielder Matt Klimchak, had his best game of the season against Villanova with a hat trick.
Junior attack Nick DePaolera has been the main facilitator of the offensive attack for Rutgers and leads the team in assists.
“This is the kind of game that you imagine when you are a little kid just learning how to play the game, and I believe this game will be exactly what we signed up for,” Brecht said of playing against a top-10 rival at home.