Rutgers eyes quick turnaround to end two-game losing streak
After starting the season with two commanding victories against Manhattan and Wagner, the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team has started to lose momentum.
The Scarlet Knights (2-2) lost their last two matches against No. 4 Virginia on Feb. 22 and Stony Brook on Saturday.
Instead of having a week to prepare for their next game, like the Knights did following their first loss to the Cavaliers, Rutgers had only two days to construct a game plan against Army, which it plays tonight at 7 p.m. in West Point, N.Y.
But head coach Brian Brecht thinks the shorter amount of time between games could be a good thing.
“I’m in favor of the quick turnaround right now,” Brecht said. “I thought we felt too good of maybe the moral victory of playing close and competing with Virginia on the road, and I thought we had a long week and a hangover of thinking that we were a lot better than we were … and with the quick turnaround, we have to refocus and not think about how good we think we are but actually go out and prove it.”
The Black Knights (3-1) enter the matchup on a three-game winning streak, with their lone loss coming by one goal to No. 13 Massachusetts.
Rutgers, which scored a season-low nine goals against the Seawolves, lost its previous two games under Brecht against the Black Knights and could struggle to find an offensive rhythm.
Army held all four of its opponents to six goals or less this season, and senior attacker Scott Klimchak only scored one goal in each of their previous two meetings.
Klimchak, who sits on 99 goals in his Rutgers career, had his 20-game goal-scoring streak snapped against Stony Brook.
But he remains upbeat that he can bounce back from the disappointing performance.
“I’m just going to keep playing the way I’ve been playing,” Klimchak said. “[Army] has a solid defense, but we’re just going to keep playing the way that we know how to play. And we’ve been putting up a lot of numbers so we’re not too worried about that.”
Rutgers is hoping for the return of Klimchak’s brother, senior midfielder Matt Klimchak, along with its faceoff specialist, junior midfielder Joe Nardella, whose presence in the middle has been missed.
But Brecht says that regardless of if they play, others will have to raise their level to make up for the lost production.
“When you have a key preseason All-American faceoff guy go down … and when he’s not there, everyone has to step up,” Brecht said.
Junior midfielder Rich Rambo was among the players Brecht openly praised for stepping up their production.
Rambo scored three goals to lead the team in Rutgers’ last game against the Seawolves, giving him seven on the season for third most on the team.
The Abington, Pa., native, who made the Big East Weekly Honor Roll, already surpassed his point total of eight from last year. If Klimchak and some others can regain their scoring form, Rutgers could give Army’s shutdown defense plenty to handle.
“This past summer I did a lot of training, especially with my shooting because I wasn’t happy with my shooting performances last year,” Rambo said. “… When one of our big players goes down, someone needs to step up, and I think we’re all capable of doing that.”
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