Last minute goal thwarts Rutgers’ late surge
Crouched over with his hands on his knees and head dropped glaring at the turf of High Point Solutions Stadium, sophomore goalkeeper Kris Alleyne’s dejected expression perfectly illustrated the mood of the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team following its 14-13 defeat Saturday to Marquette.
Trailing by two goals with 1:28 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Scarlet Knights (6-4, 1-2) managed to tie the game in 41 seconds thanks to back-to-back faceoff wins from junior faceoff specialist Joe Nardella. Clutch goals from senior midfielder Anthony Terranova and freshman attacker Christian Trasolini also helped.
With 47 seconds remaining, Nardella lined up attempting to win his third consecutive, but Marquette claimed the vital faceoff and called timeout with 37 seconds remaining.
With their play set, the Golden Eagles moved the ball patiently in attack waiting for an opening and found it after a nice spin move from attacker Conor Gately created separation for a shot that went between the Alleyne’s legs for the game-winner with 16 seconds left.
The Knights had one final chance to stage a comeback on the ensuing faceoff, but Marquette won the scrum, leaving Nardella laying flat on the ground in disbelief that Rutgers had let the game slip away.
“Give a lot of credit to Marquette, they’re a good team,” said head coach Brian Brecht. “That’s probably the thing that maybe disappointed the most — that maybe sometimes we look at the name on the jersey and pick and choose what we have to do on-and-off the field to get ready for games, and I hope that’s not the case but we’ll find out.”
The loss was Rutgers’ second straight in Big East play and also Marquette’s (3-6, 1-1) first conference victory in its first year playing in the league.
Although the Knights trailed for a majority of the game, Rutgers appeared to have the game in hand following a remarkable late comeback.
The Knights trailed 10-6 early in the fourth quarter and scored five unanswered goals, giving Rutgers an 11-10 lead with 6:17 remaining.
After leading the entire game, the Golden Eagles seemed a bit unnerved, with the roars from the Rutgers crowd getting louder and louder following each goal scored.
But Marquette responded with a three-goal run of its own, silencing the 1,903 fans in attendance.
“Knowing the way we play, we can push in transition and score a lot of goals fast and that’s what we tried to do,” said senior attacker Scott Klimchak. “… I’m proud [of the comeback] but in the end we lost. We just have to put it behind us and move forward.”
Rutgers started off sluggish, falling behind 3-0 in the first quarter. But the Knights started to decrease their turnovers, fighting back to trail 5-4 at the half.
Rutgers scored nine of its 13 goals in the second half, with seven of them coming in the fourth quarter. While the Knights did show heart in their comeback attempt, their sluggish start may have been the difference between a win and loss.
“We just needed to be more productive in the first half,” Klimchak said. “We came out slow and I think that hurt us in the end.”
Klimchak led the team with four goals while sophomore attacker Scott Bieda led the Knights with five points, scoring three times and adding two assists.
Nardella, who came into the game winning 108-of-135 in faceoff attempts, finished 18-of-30 for a 60-percent win percentage.
The loss gives the Knights very little margin of error moving forward into conference play.
Had Rutgers won, the Knights would have required just one more win in conference play to assure a spot in the Big East tournament.
For senior defender Nick Contino, the loss should serve as a valuable lesson entering the final third of the regular season.
“We have to finish games, it’s 60 minutes,” Contino said. “Doesn’t matter how the first half ends. What matters is that score after the full 60 minutes.”
For updates on the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.