Rutgers fends off late push, takes down Army in West Point
A man-up goal from Nick Santorelli gave Army an 11-10 lead with under six minutes remaining in the game and began to bring back bad memories for the Rutgers men's lacrosse team.
On the heels of a season where the Scarlet Knights lost six of their 10 games by two goals or less, they had trailed the Black Knights for the first time all afternoon after giving up two consecutive goals over the span of 39 seconds.
Army appeared to have grabbed all the momentum and the Knights’ late-game troubles from 2015 seemed to have followed them into this season.
But Rutgers didn't press and just over two minutes after Santorelli’s goal, it took the lead right back.
A bouncing shot from sophomore Jules Heningburg tied the score at 11 just 41 seconds after Army took the lead.
Then, after being held scoreless for the whole game, senior captain Scott Bieda finally got in the scoring column when his team needed a goal the most.
Having possession of the ball on the right side of Army’s net, redshirt freshman midfielder Mark Christiano found a cutting Bieda right in front of the net.
Army had the top goalie recruit in the nation, A.J. Barretto, manning the net, but with Bieda having a clear shooting lane from point-blank range, the true freshman goalkeeper stood no chance.
The attacker fired it past Barretto with just under four minutes remaining in what wound up being the game-winning goal for the Knights.
An empty net-goal from redshirt freshman attacker Adam Charalambides in the final moments capped off a 13-11 win for Rutgers (2-0) over Army (2-1) in West Point, New York, on Saturday.
The Black Knights took 56 of the first 76 games against the Scarlet Knights, but Rutgers has now come out on top in 2 of the last 3 meetings.
“We know that even if we go down, we know our offense is very high powered and can put in goals,” Christiano said. “So we didn’t have any lack of confidence at the end of the game there or lose composure. We just knew that we could put in goals if we just kept going at it.”
It took over 10 minutes for either team to get on the scoreboard, but the first goal of the game from Heningburg and opened up a string of six combined scores to close the quarter at a 3-3 tie.
Following an evenly played opening quarter, the Knights completely controlled the second quarter. Heningburg, freshman midfielder Zachary Franckowiak and senior long-stick midfielder Zack Sikora each scored a goal throughout the quarter while shutting out Army to take a 6-3 lead into halftime.
Charalambides scored his second goal of the afternoon four minutes into the third period to extend Rutgers’ lead to four, but the Black Knights wouldn’t allow the visitors to pull any more ahead. Over a six minute and 24 second span, Army found the back of the net three times to draw the score within one.
With 48 seconds left in the period, Charalambides secured a hat trick to push Rutgers’ lead to 8-6 entering the fourth period.
Two goals from Army in under the first three minutes of action in the final period knotted the score at 8 and ended a stretch of 30 minutes and 28 seconds where the Knights held the lead.
Rutgers scored two of the next three goals to take a 10-9 lead with under eight minutes left. But following a delayed penalty call on sophomore midfielder Christian Scarpello, the Black Knights tied it up and then took the lead on the ensuing man-up opportunity to jump on top for the first time in the game.
But Heningburg and Bieda — two of the Knights’ top-three scorers from 2015 — swiftly wiped away the prospect of a late loss with consecutive goals in over the next two minutes.
Army got another man-up opportunity with under three minutes remaining, but Rutgers’ defense and sophomore goalie Max Edelmann — who had 11 saves in his second career game — stood firm and fended off the home team’s final scoring chances.
“Very proud of this group,” said head coach Brian Brecht. “From start to finish, I thought our guys battled, they were fierce and they executed when they needed to in all the specialty situations. Being able to tie it after they took the lead on a man-up opportunity and take the lead back 12-11 and to finish it 13-11, I thought was markings of a great group that really had a good week of practice and certainly executed on gameday.”
With their performance on Saturday, the Knights showed that their 19-goal effort against St. John’s in the season opener was no fluke. The Black Knights had added the top goalie recruit to a defense that was seventh in the nation in goals against per game last year and had given up just 5 goals in their season opener.
On an afternoon where Scott Bieda, the team’s leading scorer from last season, had just one total point, Rutgers still managed to find the back of the net 13 times. Also, for the second time in two games, eight different Knights scored a goal, led again by Charalambides, who scored four times.
Through just two games, Rutgers is already seeing early returns of just how lethal their offense can be.
“We have a lot of weapons on different parts of the field and you kinda just pick your poison for any given day,” Henigburg said. “We could have a guy score 4 goals and another guy score 5 goals and just contributions from the whole team. So we’re really confident right now on our offense and all we need is our opportunity to take the ball and we feel like we’re gonna put the ball in the back of the net if we get it and we did today.”