Rutgers snaps two game skid on strength of hat tricks from Charalambides, Heningburg
There appeared to be a kink in the offense to start, but once the Rutgers men's lacrosse team got it straightened out, the floodgates opened against NJIT.
The No. 18 Scarlet Knights (6-2) rode a run of 12 unanswered goals to victory over the Highlanders (0-9) at High Point Solutions Stadium Friday night, insuring their neighbors to the north remained winless in 2016.
Redshirt freshman Adam Charalambides drew first blood for the Knights at the 12:41 mark of the first quarter, but Highlanders midfielder Matt Brown scored less than three minutes later to tie.
Through nearly six minutes of action, the schools were dead even at one despite Rutgers controlling possession and the tempo throughout.
Once the Knights got the offense rolling downhill, goals followed in bunches.
Sophomore attacker Jules Heningburg scored his first goal at the 12:22 mark of the second quarter, spurring a run of 3 goals in 1:18 of game time to give Rutgers a 6-1 lead at halftime.
After 30 minutes of play, the Knights cracked the door open toward their offensive potential.
But in the third, Rutgers kicked the door off the hinges, beginning with a goal from senior attacker Scott Bieda just 37 seconds into the second half.
Heningburg netted his second of the night 40 seconds later, then Charalambides scored his second 12 ticks later to cap another condensed scoring spree for the home team.
Rutgers scored six times in the first half, and by the end of the third quarter, the Knights had scored seven more. By then, Heningburg notched a hat trick and fellow attackmen Charalambides and Bieda had a pair apiece for Rutgers.
“Nothing really changed,” Heningburg said. “We just kinda got settled and started taking better shots. Opportunities started opening up to our offense once we started getting the ball hot. We just have to be able to execute at the end of the day.”
At the end of the day, the Knights cruised to a 13-goal win, but it wasn't all rainbows and unicorns in the Rutgers locker room postgame.
“I think that it’s tough coming off two losses, two tough games, great teams that we played. We played great in practice (this week) and our thing was just ‘move the ball’ on offense,” Bieda said in the bowels of the Hale Center. “We weren’t gonna take bad shots. It wasn’t about the first shot, it was about the best shot … That wasn’t our offense in the beginning.”
Charalambides is a star in the making.
The redshirt freshman is now up to 22 tallies on the season — most in the nation among freshmen — vaulting him to rank among the top-10 goal scorers in the country.
And what better way to learn than under the wing of a two-year captain like Bieda, or Heningburg, who stood in the same shoes as the 6-foot-2 Canadian just a season ago.
Charalambides made it clear that the other two on the starting attack have made an impact.
“It’s awesome,” he said of playing alongside Bieda and Heningburg. “Anything from a skill set, or just looking at their passing ability, it’s really good to be able to look up to teammates like Scott and Jules.”
Bieda is convinced, Charalambides has taken the Knights to the next level.
And there’s proof.
The attacking trio of Bieda, Heningburg and Charalambides has combined for 57 goals through the first eight contests of the year — an average of over 7 goals per contest, or just about half of Rutgers total offensive output.
And Bieda’s 35 points have pushed him to the top-10 in points per game (4.38 PPG) and total points nationally.
“He’s a hell of a player,” Bieda said of Charalambides. “He worked his butt off during the offseason, harder than anyone probably on this team … He works well with me and Jules because he knows the game. He knows how to get open. He’s finding that little slip and we’re just finding him inside. And he can finish the ball so great. Having that third guy who can finish the ball makes it so much nicer on attack.”
Rutgers will be riding high into its next matchup with Delaware next Saturday at High Point.
After just eight games, the Knights have surpassed the win total they posted in the entire 2015 campaign.
It’s stats like that that make Bieda cherish every moment he has left on the Banks.
“It’s scary thinking about how I’ve only got a couple more guaranteed games, so I take every one like it’s the last. It’s all about lacrosse and the game and playing hard, but it’s really about having fun,” Bieda said. “This is the stuff I dreamt about when I was a little kid, playing with my best friends, my brothers, my family. I just don’t want this moment to go.”