No. 18 Rutgers uses huge run to take down Army, 12-10
On a perfect day for lacrosse, the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team delivered a near perfect performance, taking down Army by a score of 12-10.
The Scarlet Knights (2-0) had solid performances from the defense to the midfield, but the shining star on Saturday was junior goalie Max Edelmann. He had 15 saves with a 60 percent save percentage, outdoing his performance last week against St. John’s. He was especially big down the stretch, as he made several huge saves when the Knights were clinging to a 2-goal lead with under a minute to play.
On the other hand, the Black Knights (1-1) were led by Cole Johnson, who put in 5 goals, including one just 20 seconds into the game, putting Army on top and giving it early momentum.
“They went up early on us and it’s not something we hadn’t seen before,” said junior midfielder Christian Scarpello. “We knew once you get hit, you gotta hit back and you gotta hit hard. We were able to be successful playing in transition and bury a few quick ones.”
That they did, as the Knights scored 4 unanswered goals to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 5-3 lead, which they extended into a 7-5 advantage going into halftime.
They used that momentum to go on another run, this time a 5-1 spurt to give themselves a 12-6 lead with just over 11 minutes left in the game.
“We strung a few possessions along that allowed us to capitalize,” said head coach Brian Brecht. “It’s a game of runs and when you play Army, you knew they were gonna keep fighting back.”
That fight from Army was demonstrated by a huge effort late in the game to bring themselves within 2 goals. Johnson was once again the catalyst for the Black Knights, as he scored 3 of 4 goals on a 4-0 Army run that closed the scoreline to 12-10.
Edelmann made a massive save with 53 seconds left in the game, going to his knees and angling his stick downward to scoop a shot that would’ve made it a one-goal game.
Despite the Black Knights having 2:44 to score just 2 goals to tie it up, Rutgers was able to tighten up and shut them out over that stretch to close out the victory.
“We just really had to refocus and we had to think about what we needed to do ... and once we did that, (we had to) put some points on the board and make some saves,” Edelmann said of the team’s effort to close out the game.
One key for the Knights going on their huge run was re-establishing themselves at the faceoff “X." Army was able to jump out to such a quick lead due to scoring and winning the ensuing faceoff. Even when Rutgers scored its first goal, Army took the faceoff and went right back down the field.
Scarpello said after the game that they tried to put some poles in that spot to switch things up. Sophomore Kyle Pless stepped into that role and went 3-5, the best mark for any Rutgers player on the day. His biggest play was after a Kieran Mullins goal, where Pless came out of a scramble with the ball and found Mullins, who ripped home an underhand shot from distance, his second goal in just 24 seconds.
“I’m glad that we were able to battle and go 50, 50 on the face-offs, glad that we were able to get double digits and 12 goals,” said Brecht. “When you have a goalie getting 15 saves and you’re getting double digits in goals and you're winning possessions at the faceoff, that’s a good recipe for success.”
By pulling out the victory, Rutgers moves to 2-0 on the season. In a matchup between two teams with lots of tradition as individual programs and as opponents, Brecht was very excited that Rutgers was able to come out on top.
“It’s a huge win for our alumni and for our players,” Brecht said. “Huge win, give the seniors a lot of credit. They’ve won three out of four (games against Army) throughout their career. Thats a big win for them, that's a big win for our program.”