Eagles offer chance at Big East win
At the start of the season, the Rutgers men’s lacrosse teams’ goals were simple — have a winning record, change one-goal losses into one-goal wins, get to the Big East Tournament and qualify for the NCAAs.
Now past the midway point of the season, the Scarlet Knights (6-3, 1-1) appear to be on track in accomplishing those goals.
But success in Big East conference play will be the deciding factor in Rutgers’ postseason fate.
The Knights are 1-1 so far in the conference, losing on the road to new Big East rival No. 5 Denver, 17-11, last Saturday.
The loss ended Rutgers’ four-game winning streak, which includes a 12-6 road victory over conference nemesis Providence on March 15.
With seven teams in the Big East and only four spots available for the Big East Tournament in May, a victory tomorrow against Marquette at noon in High Point Solutions Stadium is crucial.
The Golden Eagles (2-6, 0-1) are in their second season as a lacrosse program and first as a member of the Big East.
Marquette is the third team Rutgers has faced this season for the very first time, but the stakes are much higher being that it is conference play.
Despite Marquette’s poor record, the Golden Eagles did manage to defeat No. 19 Hofstra earlier in the year and are used to playing on the road, with all but one of their games played away from home.
“[Marquette has] a lot of energy, they have some Canadians that have some stick skills and I think they’re very well coached,” said head coach Brian Brecht. “ … The Big East games are exciting because I think everyone understands that’s where your bread and butter is.”
The Knights should be favored against Marquette entering the matchup.
Rutgers leads the conference with 12.89 goals per game, while the Golden Eagles conceded the most goals per game in the conference.
Senior attacker Scott Klimchak leads the Knights’ attack with 2.78 goals per game — second most in the conference.
But freshman attacker Christian Trasolini enters the game coming off a career-high four-goal performance against Denver.
Although just a freshman, Trasolini ranks second on the team in goals scored and total points and will be looking to carry his hot streak into the next game.
“I do believe in momentum because you go in and you play well and you keep going and keep going, but that doesn’t mean that I should be taking crazy shots,” Trasolini said. “ … I just need to play the game quarter by quarter, minute by minute and just play with everyone else on the field.”
Rutgers also has a clear advantage in face-offs against Marquette.
Led by junior face-off specialist and Inside Lacrosse Midseason All-American Joe Nardella, the Knights rank first in the conference in faceoff winning percentage.
Nardella is 108-of-135 in faceoff attempts and the Knights are 5-1 this season when the Cazenovia, N.Y., native has been healthy for the entire game.
Defensively, Rutgers is looking to rebound after conceding 17 goals to the Pioneers, its second most allowed this season.
The Knights’ defense impressed for the majority of the year, ranking second in the conference in goals conceded just behind Denver.
Sophomore goalkeeper Kris Alleyne has played a large part in the team’s defensive numbers, leading the conference in save percentage.
Following Rutgers’ disappointing game against the Pioneers, Alleyne believes the Knights will rebound from the poor showing.
“We just have to keep playing our game,” Alleyne said. “We know we have the talent, we know we have the work ethic of any other team in the country so we just have to put it all together.”
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