Rutgers dominates No. 9 Johns Hopkins in 16-9 win
The last time the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team squared off against Johns Hopkins, it suffered defeat in heartbreaking fashion.
The Scarlet Knights surrendered a 1-goal lead in the final quarter to the Blue Jays, squandering the chance at an upset bid over a top-20 team in the program’s first Big Ten game.
When the two programs met again on Saturday night, the Knights held a lead over top-20 ranked Johns Hopkins entering the fourth quarter yet again.
But this time, that lead was 5 goals higher, and the Knights held onto it until the final horn sounded.
Leading for the entire game, the Knights (8-2, 1-0) stymied No. 9 Johns Hopkins (5-4, 0-1) and its top-10 scoring attack in a 16-9 upset win in front of a record lacrosse crowd at High Point Solutions Stadium of 3,653.
Rutgers starting attacking line of senior Scott Bieda, redshirt freshman Adam Charalambides and sophomore Jules Heningburg — which is 1 of 2 trios in the country to have 20 goals apiece — combined for 9 goals and eight assists, and senior attacker Ryan Hollingsworth excelled in his role of man-up specialist, scoring a career-high 3 goals while on the man advantage.
It was the Knights' first win over the storied Johns Hopkins lacrosse program since 1990 and their highest win over a ranked opponent in Brian Brecht’s five-year tenure as head coach.
“It’s a great signature win for our program,” Brecht said. “I thought our defense was outstanding. Kris (Alleyne) was outstanding in the goal. Our rope unit continues to do a great job, not only defensively, sinking their teeth in holding a high-powered offense like that to under 10 goals and then pushing the transition in the opportunities we had … I’m happy for the guys and I’m proud of them.”
The Blue Jays came to Piscataway with the No. 9 scoring offense in the nation averaging 13 goals per game, along with the top man-up conversion rate at over a 61 percent club.
They were able to muster up the same amount of shots as the Knights, but the three levels of Rutgers’ defensive side locked in and contained Hopkins’ blistering attack.
The Knights’ rope and defensive unit contributed to winning the groundball battle 30-27 and shut down the Blue Jays’ man-up unit each of the three times it saw the field.
When the game ended most of the Rutgers team dog piled on top of Kris Alleyne, and for good reason — the senior was locked in from start to finish and stood tall in goal more times than not.
Alleyne was active in net in scooping two groundballs and saving 14 of the 23 shots on goal he faced, including 7 of the first 10 as Rutgers built an 8-3 lead at halftime.
Since relieving the injured sophomore Max Edelmann, Alleyne is 5-2 with a 55.1 save percentage and an average of just 8.50 goals against.
“I hold myself to a pretty high standard,” Alleyne said. “I knew if I did my job and the defense did their job, then we’d put our offense in a good position to score some goals and get us a big-time win."
The Knights went toe-to-toe with Hopkins' attack on Saturday night, firing back at it each time it threatened to overtake their lead.
At a 2-0 disadvantage at the start of the second quarter thanks to scores from Hollingsworth and junior midfielder Christian Trasolini the Blue Jays, and most notably its top goal scorer, finally got some offense going.
Attacker Ryan Brown scored his first goal at the 13:01 mark and his third goal of the game just over four minutes later. But after each score from Brown, the Knights answered right back with a goal to stay ahead, holding a 5-3 lead after a goal from freshman attacker Josh Jordan with eight minutes remaining in the half.
Rutgers seized the momentum after Jordan's goal, with scores from Heningburg, sophomore midfielder Christian Scarpello and Charalambides to enter the locker room with an 8-3 lead.
Johns Hopkins made a run at the Knights again at the beginning of the second half, as John Crawley found the back of the net twice in the first five minutes and the Blue Jays scored 3 of the first 4 goals overall to draw the score at 9-6.
But a Josh Jordan goal at the six-minute mark of the third quarter would be the final turning point of the game. Jordan's goal started a stretch of 5 consecutive goals from the home team spanning into the first couple minutes of the fourth quarter, as Rutgers would be in full control for the remainder of the game.
Johns Hopkins entered the game two spots ahead of the Knights in scoring offense, but after Saturday night's dominating performance on both ends of the field, Rutgers leapfrogged the Blue Jays in that category.
“Honestly, we were just finding the very good looks,” Hollingsworth said. “There was a lot of options. We just moved the ball very well and there was a lot of good looks.”
It's hard to think of a better way to start conference play than with a 7-goal statement win over No. 9 Johns Hopkins. Originally picked to finish last in the Big Ten, the Knights have already tied the amount of conference wins they collected during their inaugural season.
Before the season, captain Scott Bieda said Rutgers' end goal was to win a Big Ten Championship this season.
After handily knocking off the second-highest ranked team in the conference, the Knights seem to be on track to at the least make a trip to Baltimore in May to compete for the conference title.
“Huge, huge,” Alleyne said of starting conference play with a win over No. 9 Johns Hopkins. “Just gotta keep it rolling. Nothing more to say.”