Postseason hopes crumble for Rutgers at Penn State
STATE COLLEGE –– The Rutgers men’s lacrosse team entered Happy Valley for Sunday’s game with Penn State needing a victory to keep postseason prospects alive.
And more importantly, to do what the players called demonstrating pride.
The Scarlet Knights hoped to paint State College red, but instead, in a fitting tribute to “Blue and White” weekend, the Nittany Lions dispatched the Knights, 11-6.
Rutgers (4-10, 0-4) will return to the banks winless in the inaugural season of the Big Ten and without the possibility of a postseason in 2015.
After playing mistake-free lacrosse in the 9-8 nail-biting loss to then-No. 3 Maryland April 12, last night the Knights beat themselves in the shadows of Beaver Stadium.
Rutgers turned the ball over 19 times, many of which seemed to be at crucial points in the game where the Knights were either in need of a goal to take a lead or desperate just to stay in the game.
"We certainly had a lot of turnovers," said head coach Brian Brecht. "Nineteen turnovers is probably too many to win a game on the road in this conference.”
Junior attacker Scott Bieda pinpointed the problems for Rutgers.
“We turned the ball over too many times and we couldn’t capitalize on our opportunities when we had them,” Bieda said.
The man in the net for Penn State (4-8, 1-3) didn’t help matters either for Rutgers.
Nittany Lions goalkeeper Connor Darcey entered the contest averaging over 12 saves per game. Last night, he made 11 saves with at least three coming from point-blank range. The more shots he turned aside, the more his confidence grew as the Knights' swagger shrunk.
“He was an exceptional goaltender," said sophomore attacker Christian Trasolini. "Definitely a big, strong kid — had an eye for the ball and knew where it was going."
Darcey was a factor before the game began as the players and coaching staff had seen film on the Wellesley, Mass., native.
“You gotta give it to him," Bieda said of Darcey. "He has had a great season and he had a great game today. We had some inside looks where he made some amazing saves, credit to him, you have to give it to him.”
Trasolini also felt the turnovers took a toll on the team. When coupled with a stone wall in the cage, it made for a tough night for Rutgers.
“I think the turnovers that we had really came back and hurt us at the end,” Trasolini said. “Throughout the game, we would make up for a turnover or a bad shot, but it really came down to the end when it caused us to fall behind so many goals.”
It all started well for Rutgers.
Scarlet and white staked themselves to a 3-1 lead late into the first quarter after Bieda struck first, followed by senior midfielder Brian Goss and freshman attacker Jules Heningburg.
But the lead was short-lived.
The Nittany Lions pounced, making a four-goal run to take a 5-3 lead on their way to scoring six of the game's final nine goals to salt away the win.
Rutgers’ bright spots included Heningburg, who notched a hat trick for the Knights. Bieda managed to contribute two goals and two assiste, while junior goaltender Kris Alleyne set a new season-high with 13 saves in the net.
The highlight of the game came when Christian Scarpiello fed Bieda on the move in front of the cage. Bieda, all in one motion, caught the pass and flipped it behind his head for a goal.
"It’s not flashy, it’s just the right play," Bieda said. "I don’t even think I thought about it."
Rutgers will look to right the ship in its season finale against No. 11 Ohio State on Saturday for Senior Day at High Point Solutions Stadium — the last chance for Rutgers to capture a Big Ten win in 2015.
Bieda believes the team will find a way to send the seniors out on top.
"It’s a Senior Day and it’s about playing for them," he said. "It’s for pride. It’s not to go 0-for in the Big Ten. We want to represent the seniors the way it should be, to go out on a win."
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