Rutgers runs up season-high 17 goals in win over Delaware
The signs were there, but they came only in flashes.
Throughout the season the Rutgers men's lacrosse team showed a knack for hanging tough with top-ranked teams late in games, only to fall short when it mattered most.
The Scarlet Knights would earn a momentum-swinging win and then falter in the follow-up, never possessing the ability to play to their potential for 60 minutes.
That wasn't the case Saturday.
Rutgers was an offensive dynamo against Delaware, setting a new high-water mark for goals scored in 2015 by hanging a 17-spot on the Blue Hens to win going away, 17-12.
Nine different Knights scored and junior goaltender Kris Alleyne negated Delaware scoring chances down the stretch to preserve a once tenuous lead, helping Rutgers snap a three-game losing streak.
“I think I’ve been (saying) for the last month now that this team is getting better every week,” said head coach Brian Brecht, “We just needed to massage and figure out what the best way to play well together was and that’s what it was, it was a great team effort,” Brecht said.
It began before than fans had a chance to settle in their seats, just 25 seconds into the contest with a goal from freshman attacker Christian Scarpello.
Senior midfielder Brian Goss struck for the second Rutgers goal two minutes later to give the Knights an early 2-0 lead.
The Blue Hens got even before Rutgers rushed back in front with a goal by face-off specialist Joe Nardella before Delaware’s Paul Major and Will Hirschman gave the home team a 4-3 lead.
This would mark the only time the Knights would trail.
Sophomore attacker Connor Murphy scored to tie it before Nardella scored his second and junior attacker Scott Bieda scored his first to give Rutgers a 6-4 lead.
Delaware battled back to tie it at six.
This process would be repeated throughout the first half as the Knights would mount a two-goal advantage just to see their run halted when the Blue Hens answered to tie.
After a three-goal run with tallies from Bieda, freshman attacker Jules Heningburg and sophomore attacker Christian Trasolini, Delaware got one back to make it 9-7 before Trasolini got his second goal to make it 10-7.
The Blue Hens scored once more to cut the lead to 10-8 at the half.
This was an accomplishment in and of itself.
To that point Rutgers had tallied more than 10 goals just once this season, a 13-10 win over Wagner February 24.
But in the second stanza the Knights were firing on all cylinders, scoring seven more, while limiting Delaware to four scores in the final two periods.
“I think we came out today and we each did our jobs,” Trasolini said. “Everyone moved and grooved and we got our offense flowing which gave me opportunities to shoot.”
And shoot he did.
Trasolini fired nine total shots and netted four goals to tie a career-high for goals in a game.
One of the many highlights from the afternoon was when Trasolini found himself all alone, approximately 16 yards from the goal mouth.
“I just saw an opening in the net, no one slid to me and I just took my opportunity as best I could," the sophomore attacker said.
Trasolini launched a laser that beat Delaware goaltender Brett Anton low and away.
The Knights' head coach was impressed with Trasolini's tenacious play, saying he continues to improve game-in and game-out.
But Trasolini was only the second best performance of the the day.
Bieda led an offensive barrage that included a career-high five goals to edge Trasolini for the team lead with 16 on the year.
However, that praise would never be uttered by Bieda, the consummate teammate.
“Really they’re all assisted goals,” Bieda said, deflecting attention from his personal performance. “I was cutting and moving and my teammates were finding me inside so I’ve gotta give credit to my teammates, and the offense in general for flowing and moving the ball real well today.”
The focus on the team concept seemed to turn the tide for the boys on the banks and all associated seem to agree.
“They’ve worked hard and like I said they’re getting better each week so you’re starting to see the fruits of all their labor,” Brecht said, adding “getting 40 shots and 17 goals, when you script out how you wanna play, that’s how we want to play at Rutgers.”
Bieda agrees with his coach that the win over Delaware proved the team can play to their potential.
“I think it showed how we can actually play today,” Bieda said. “As an offense and together as a team, that proved that that’s the true Rutgers team that you saw play today,” he said.
But Bieda knows one game will not be enough as the Knights will host in-state rival No. 11 Princeton for a St. Patrick’s Day matchup with a mere 72 hours to prepare.
“If we come out and play like (we did against Delaware) we can stay with any team in the country, I know that and so does our team and no one has to believe that but us.”
Belief in their team’s ability could prove vital for a hungry Knights team looking to turn the season around with an upset in Tuesday’s tilt with the Tigers.
And if Rutgers can remain unselfish they just may have a shot to take down a big team on a big stage.
That is if that can adopt the mindset of their offensive leader.
“I could get zero points and we could get a win and that means I did my job,” Bieda said, “our team did our job (against Delaware) and we got a team win, it’s all about the team.”