New additions spark offense
Returning 97 percent of its offensive production from last year, the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team entered 2014 with high hopes in the attacking end.
The Scarlet Knights (4-2) have impressed so far, scoring 83 goals in just six games. The total is the most since Rutgers’ 1998 squad scored 86 goals through six matches.
Led by senior attacker Scott Klimchak’s team-high 17 goals, the Knights are ranked seventh in the country in scoring offense, averaging 13.83 goals per contest.
Though Klimchak’s production has been a large part of the Knights’ success, a majority of the scoring has come from some unexpected sources.
Junior midfielder Rich Rambo has already tripled his goal-scoring output from last year. His total is tied for second most on the team with freshman attackers Connor Murphy and Christian Trasolini at nine goals apiece.
Senior midfielder Nick DePaolera, who finished second on the team with 17 goals last season, has only scored five so far.
While DePaolera’s goal-scoring numbers have dropped, the Kinnelon, N.J., native has tallied seven assists, tied for the team lead.
DePaolera says having more options in the attack has led to their success.
“It’s always good having freshmen come in so the game doesn’t always rely on the seniors,” DePaolera said. “We always have them stepping up, and once you get contributions from them it takes pressure off the older guys, so anything they do is a bonus for us.”
During Rutgers’ 20-4 blowout win Saturday against Monmouth, 16 different Knights scored at least one goal.
In total, 22 different players have scored at least once this season for Rutgers, compared to 21 all of last year.
With so many players contributing to the Knights’ attack, head coach Brian Brecht believes the team is finally coming together as a collective unit.
“I think that’s what we are this year, we’re a team, and as long as we play together and do our jobs I think we can be very successful,” Brecht said.
Freshmen have played a large role in Rutgers’ potent attack, but against top opposition, the Knights have relied on their experienced players.
In its 9-8 overtime win at previously ranked Army on March 4, Rutgers leaned heavily on Klimchak’s play. He scored a team-high four goals, including the game winner.
For a team that went 0-8 last year in games decided by two goals or less, to emerge victorious on the road against a quality opponent demonstrates the Knights’ growth this season.
“We’re a lot more mature and a lot smarter,” DePaolera said. “We know how to really push it and I think it’s really showing, especially this season, that everything is starting to come together.”
One player who has benefited from his team’s newfound offensive efficiency has been sophomore goalkeeper Kris Alleyne.
Against Monmouth, Alleyne faced only five shots during 15 minutes of action and never had to make a save.
The defense has been solid, but junior faceoff specialist Joe Nardella’s impressive play has helped.
With the Knights’ more consistent scoring, the sophomore keeper has a little more margin for error — something he did not have a season ago.
“It’s awesome [knowing we have a lot of scoring options],” Alleyne said. “Anytime we might let one up down on our end we know we’ll get it back from all the scoring we have been getting with our offense. So it makes it a lot easier to keep it mellow down in our end.”
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