June 26, 2019 | 75° F

Stony Brook denies late comeback run

For 45 minutes, the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team did a good job coping with the loss of junior faceoff specialist Joe Nardella — until the fourth quarter started.

The Scarlet Knights (2-2) entered the fourth quarter tied at six with Stony Brook. What happened next once again exposed the Knights’ inability to finish out games without their star faceoff player.

The Seawolves (2-2) were 8-of-10 in face-offs during the final 15 minutes, outscoring the Knights, 6-3, in the frame for a 12-9 victory.

But head coach Brian Brecht believes his team showed a lot of fight in the loss.

“I didn’t see it as a collapse at the end,” Brecht said. “I thought we did a good job of after a slow start fighting through. … It was an evenly fought game, and I thought we fought hard to get back into it after being down 4-1 in the first quarter.”

Down, 9-11, with 1:25 to go, the Seawolves won the ensuing faceoff and scored to finish off the game.

The Knights’ attack finished with a season-low nine goals scored.

Senior attacker Scott Klimchak—the reigning Big East Offensive Player of the Week — was held to just two shots and failed to score a goal, ending his 20-game goal-scoring streak.

“Klimchak is sitting on 99 goals,” Brecht said. “If I’m a defensive coordinator and I’m going to play against someone sitting on 99 goals, I’m going to game plan all week to make sure he doesn’t get number 100 against us, and he didn’t.”

The Knights outscored the Seawolves, 2-1, in both the third and second quarters thanks to six saves from sophomore goalkeeper Kris Alleyne.

Junior midfielder Rich Rambo scored two of his team-leading three goals during both quarters.

The Knights did a good job containing the Seawolves’ top scorer Brody Eastwood — holding him to one goal — but struggled to go on consistent scoring runs.

Part of the struggles stemmed from the Seawolves controlling the games tempo with their long possessions and stingy defense, but missing Nardella’s presence in the faceoff remained a large factor.

The Knights like to score most of their goals from quick transitions off the faceoff, and without Nardella, Rutgers failed to find a consistent rhythm.

Junior faceoff specialist Brian Lenskold took most of the face-offs for the Knights and senior defender Andrew Parrilla also had some attempts, but neither could replicate Nardella’s dominance.

Though Rutgers tied Stony Brook in the amount of shots, the Seawolves had clear advantages in both face-offs and groundballs.

But the Knights were much better in limiting mistakes.

Rutgers turned the ball over 12 times compared to Stony Brook’s 14, a much improved result from their previous two games against Wagner and No. 4 Virginia.

The Knights also did much better in defensive clearances, finishing 15-of-17. Despite the limited mistakes, Rutgers’ offensive and defensive identity are starting to show inconsistency without Nardella in the lineup.

“To be honest with you, when you lose one of your lead guys all the other guys have to step up and make up for it,” Brecht said. “… And we had a lot to make up not having Joe Nardella out there and we didn’t make up enough.”

By Sean Stewart

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