Rutgers looks to fix early-season errors after 1st loss of year to Army
No. 13 Knights fell to No. 9 Army last weekend
Despite starting off the 2017 season with two straight wins, the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team didn’t make it look easy, with its wins against Robert Morris and St. John’s featuring some early-season sloppiness.
The Red Storm was able to go ahead early by winning faceoffs and finding holes in the Scarlet Knights' defense, while the Colonials kept things close early using the same formula. All the while, Rutgers' offense failed to show consistency with the integration of true freshman Tommy Coyne as a starting attacker in its second game.
Those mistakes finally caught up to the team, as the No. 13 Knights dropped a close 9-7 contest at No. 9 Army where a few breaks could have resulted in an upset win for them.
And while that loss certainly is not a bad one, it is one that sheds some light on areas of weakness.
The loss also served as a wake up call of sorts for the team, as senior midfielder and captain Christan Mazzone admitted that the team has been simply too sloppy in the beginning of the season, but the result against the Black Knights would only make Rutgers work harder.
“There’s always gonna be mistakes in (a) game, but we had a little bit too many here and there, especially during the Army game,” he said. “When you play a (top-10) team like Army, it showed. They made mistakes too, but we just made a little bit more.”
In 2017, the Knights got off to a blistering start, rolling to eight straight wins before losing 4 of the next 5 and missing out on the Big Ten Tournament and subsequently, the NCAA Tournament.
Senior goalie Max Edelmann noted that he was glad the first loss happened earlier in the season, as it gives the team the opportunity to focus more on its mistakes and get set for its game against Fairfield on Saturday.
“I’m glad this happened earlier in the season rather than later,” Edelmann said. “We have a lot of little things to work on throughout this week. We can only go week to week now and we gotta focus on Fairfield and scouting them.”
As for head coach Brian Brecht, he said he could go on all day about his team’s mistakes against Army, but noted that it came down to making more plays, which Rutgers could not do.
But he also schedules tough games like that early in the season to give the Knights challenges and prepare them for Big Ten play. With that being said, he still expects his team to win, not just come close, and to simply take care of business.
“The more challenges you have in the non-league part of the schedule, it’s only gonna help you prepare for the league stuff,” he said. “We have two bites of the apple. I honestly feel with our schedule, non-league and in the Big Ten, those are two legitimate bites at the end game, if we can take care of ourselves.”
Even with its loss, Rutgers still has 11 games left on the schedule, and the team is fixing a few small mistakes away from getting back into the top 10 and finally breaking through into the NCAA Tournament.
Brecht remains optimistic that if his team takes a step back and fixes its errors, it will be able to take care of business for the rest of the year.
“We gotta get back, have a great week of practice, (we) have to develop all areas of our game and (we) have a great opportunity at home before we hit the road again,” Brecht said. “We just gotta take care of ourselves. If we take care of ourselves, we win the games on our schedule, I think we’ll have everything that we want. But it starts with having a good week of practice and it starts with getting the next one, which is Saturday at home (against Fairfield).”