Redshirt freshman's dream debut leads Rutgers to 19-11 season opening win over St. John's
Friday was already destined to be a special day for Adam Charalambides.
On the day the attacker turned 20 years old, he was gifted the opportunity to finally play in his first game for the Rutgers lacrosse team after missing out on the entirety of his true freshman season due to an injury.
The way the redshirt freshman wound up performing in his debut made his birthday particularly memorable.
Charalambides got the start and brought the birthday celebration from off the field to High Point Solutions Stadium in the form of his own coming out party. The Ontario, Canada, native was at the forefront of a high-scoring attack for the Scarlet Knights, notching a team-high six goals and an assist.
His six goals are the most a Knights’ freshman has scored in a game since Ed Trabulsy in 1984 and tie him for fifth-most goals scored in a game in program history.
And on top of it all, his team came out victorious in its season opener.
“It’s gotta be the best birthday of my life so far,” Charalambides said.
Eight different players scored for Rutgers (1-0) en route to a 19-11 matinee win over St. John’s (0-1) at High Point Solutions Stadium. Ten of the Knights’ goals 19 goals were assisted.
Charalambides led the way with 6 goals and his attacking partner, senior captain Scott Bieda, was right behind him earning 5 goals and 4 assists.
Bieda, who was coming off a season where he averaged just under 4 points per game, notched a career high for points in a single game and sketches his name sixth on the all-time list for points in a single game at Rutgers.
Sophomore midfielder Chad Tolliver and junior attacker Connor Murphy were the other two Knights with multiple goals, each collecting two.
Rutgers begins its season the same way it did in 2015 — in the win column with a victory over the Red Storm.
“I think we played great,” Bieda said. “A lot of guys (were) on the score sheet which is awesome to see. (There were) a lot of assisted goals, which is even better, and I’m real proud of the way our team played offensively. But defensively we played unreal too. Those (defensive midfielders), they’re playing transition, our transition game I think we got half our goals off that. So it’s real exciting to see.”
In terms of possession control and leads, the Knights' game against St. John’s was broken up into two very unequal parts.
The Johnnies blitzed Rutgers early on, taking a 3-0 lead just under four minutes into the game.
But for the remaining 56-plus minutes of game time — and especially for the remainder of the first quarter — the home team was in total control.
From the 7:39 to the 2:19 mark in the first quarter, the Knights ripped off eight straight goals to take an 8-3 lead. St. John’s could only manage one shot on goal in the sequence.
Bieda began the run by scoring Rutgers’ first goal of the season and was the catalyst on six of the eight goals — scoring on three and being the set-up man on the remaining three. Charalmabides’ goal with under five minutes left in the quarter gave the Knights the first and only lead they would need.
Eric DeJohn’s goal with eight seconds left on the first-period clock to draw the score to 8-4 ended St. John’s scoring drought that lasted over 11 minutes, but that’s the closest the Red Storms would be able to cut their deficit to for the rest of the afternoon.
After Bieda scored his fourth goal of the game to push Rutgers’ advantage to 9-4 with 13:31 remaining in the second quarter, it never allowed its lead shrink below that mark.
Three of the Knights’ four goals in the second quarter came in the first six minutes of action. And they only allowed one goal, taking a 12-5 lead into halftime.
The Johnnies cut Rutgers’ lead to five with 6:53 left in the third and six with 14:01 left in the fourth, but each time Charalambides answered with a goal of his own to shut down any comeback effort.
“I was a little nervous to start, but having Scott out there as a captain on the attack really helped me calm down and just play the game and let it come to me a little bit," Charalambides said. "(It) felt good to be out there."
While the Knights’ offensive attack garnered most of the attention following a 19-goal effort — for good reason — the team was sound in all other aspects of the game as well.
On the defensive end, Rutgers was 16-of-19 on clears and sophomore junior-college transfer Max Edelmann tallied nine saves in his first career start as the Knights’ goalie.
The home team also forced 10 of St. John’s 14 turnovers and capitalized on 44 of the game’s 62 ground balls.
In the faceoff circle, a pair of sophomores, Alex Schoen and Joe Francisco, combined to control 22 of the 34 draws, which was key in Rutgers dominating overall possession and having 47 total shots.
For a team that has a large number of underclassmen playing significant minutes and roles, Friday was an encouraging start to the season for Rutgers.
“I thought we played well. We played exactly how we’ve been practicing all preseason. (I'm) proud of the guys,” said head coach Brian Brecht. “Listen, we’re very young, it was the first time in that big stadium for a lot of guys who made a lot of plays for us today. It’s a 60-minute game … So we had to stay focused, we had to play hard, we had to understand our responsibilities for 60 minutes. They did a great job, they executed the game plan and they had a lot of success today.”