Rutgers opens up tough home schedule with Army on Saturday
With a week to prepare following a 16-8 season-opening victory against St. John’s, the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team is set to take on Army in its home opener on Saturday.
The No. 18 Scarlet Knights (1-0) will be facing a much tougher challenge in the Black Knights (1-0), who are coming off a dominant 9-2 victory over UMass and are receiving votes in national polls.
“We (need to) come prepared to understand our opponent, work on some of the things we need to do to clean up our set and systems that we play out of,” said head coach Brian Brecht. “There’s no doubt it’s gonna be a step up in class as far as the intensity of the game.”
Against St. John’s, the starting attacking unit put up 12 points, led by junior Jules Heningburg who netted 4 goals. He credited the strong attacking effort to the midfield, who Brecht is letting play more freely this season.
With Christian Trasolini out for the season, different guys will have to step up in that area of the field. Against the Red Storm, sophomore Casey Rose and juniors Christian Scarpello and Christian Mazzone combined for six points, with five of those being goals.
“They get stops and they come down on the offensive end,” Heningburg said of them. “Coach is letting them play a little more offense this year, trying to (keep them on the field) a little bit longer. And now they’re just getting their chances and converting them.”
Junior goalkeeper Max Edelmann is readjusting to become the full-time starter after starting the first three games last year before an injury kept him out for the remainder of the season.
While there were some goals that he wishes he hadn’t let in against St. John’s, he saw improvement in the team and feels that they are well-prepared for Army on Saturday.
“I think everything's starting to click and I think were gonna use that momentum into Army,” he said. “We need to keep the ball off the ground, we gotta be strong on the defensive side.”
Brecht echoed his sentiments regarding the St. John’s game. There will be little margin for error against the very tough Army squad.
The Black Knights will be playing with some extra confidence after a blowout in their season opener and the Knights will have to be ready to withstand that effort.
“We’re not gonna be able to leave goals on the table, we’re not gonna be able to let soft goals in with one second left in the half,” Brecht said.
While Rutgers is establishing it self as a team, it will need to have matured plenty in order to defend its home turf against the Black Knights.
Being ranked to start the season adds a unique challenge for the Knights as well. As Rutgers continues to play unranked nonconference teams, there is a massive target on its back as it tries to out point just about every nonconference opponent on their schedule.
“Army is relentless in their efforts all over the field,” Brecht said. “Offensively, defensively, ground ball play, transition. They’re gonna be physical, they’re gonna be well coached, they’re gonna be hungry.”
The game is set to start at 2:30 p.m. and marks the home opener for the Knights at High Point Solutions Stadium.
Rutgers was undefeated at home last season, going 7-0 with victories over ranked opponents Penn State and Johns Hopkins. The Knights will look to repeat that feat this year, hosting three ranked opponents including two top-10 teams, No. 10 Brown and No. 2 Maryland. Playing in front of their home crowd and putting on their white jerseys is something special and something they take pride in, Brecht said.
“(It means a lot) to put on those white jerseys with the pride we have to represent Rutgers,” he said. “I think our guys know it’s gonna be a step up and we’re gonna have to do things (differently).”