No. 8 Rutgers defeats Robert Morris in season opener
The Rutgers men's lacrosse team opened up its 2018 campaign on Saturday afternoon, as it took on Robert Morris at High Point Solutions Stadium.
There's only so many things you can take away from an opening game, but the No. 8 Scarlet Knights (1-0) took care of business, defeating the Colonials by a score of 11-7.
The story of the day was fifth-year senior midfielder and captain Christian Trasolini, who played in his first game since 2016, after missing all of last season with an injury. All Trasolini did was start off the year with a hat trick and lead the team with 3 goals.
"All the credit goes to my teammates," he said. "They kinda put me in position to get those goals. A lot of energy and movement was going on around the field today."
Trasolini was part of a very productive midfield unit, as junior midfielder Casey Rose chipped in 2 goals, and senior captain midfielder Christian Mazzone scored twice as well and dished out two assists.
On a day where the attacking unit scored just twice, the production from the group was key.
Senior captain attacker Jules Heningburg scored the opening goal for Rutgers and dished out an impressive five assists.
"The guys are just getting open for me," Heningburg said. "I just dodge hard and the rest of the guys get open and I find them."
Despite not registering a point, sophomore attacker Kieran Mullins was praised by head coach Brian Brecht for "working his (butt) off" and creating a lot of opportunities for his teammates. Senior attacker Connor Vercruysse got the start in the third spot and made the most of it early, scoring a goal in the first quarter to give the Knights a 3-0 lead.
Two true freshmen attackers also saw their first career action for the team, as Tommy Coyne and Ryan Gallagher made their debuts. Gallagher netted his first career goal in the second quarter. Brecht listed those two as players that will have a chance to make an impact immediately with the third attack spot still not completely settled.
And while Rutgers got the win when it was all said and done, the Colonials made things uncomfortable late, as they went on a 4-1 run in the second half to make it a 9-7 game. But Rose scored with 5:33 left in the game to end a near-16 minute scoring drought for the Knights.
From there, Rutgers buckled down on defense and put in a late score to pad the lead and put away any thought of a season-opening upset.
"(We had to) just kinda focus on ourselves a little bit," Trasolini said about ending the late Colonial surge. "Every team in college lacrosse right now is a good team. You can't rule out anyone, you cant walk over anyone and you have to respect your opponents. Today we kinda just focused on our own duties and kinda just honed down, took a breath and said 'Okay we got this,' and just took care of business."
At the all-important faceoff "X," senior Alex Schoen handled things for the Knights, winning 13 of 21 (61.9 percent) and rebounding from a slow start.
Schoen was 3-of-7 in the first quarter but won the first four in the second quarter, giving Rutgers possession for nearly the entire period and helping his team shut out Robert Morris for nearly 18 minutes to close out the first half.
"He's been a talented player for us," Brecht said. "He settled down, just like all our guys and started to take care of what our responsibilities are. I thought he had a good day, and I'm certainly pleased."
At the end of the day, the Knights were able to open their season with a win and have film to look at to improve on. It's hard to gauge how good a team is after one game, but Rutgers took care of business and will look to improve on Saturday when it hosts St. John's at 1 p.m.
"I thought we had opportunities that we left on the doorstep," Brecht said. "Certainly a lot of room for improvement ... When you play at this level, all wins are good wins. That's a great way for us to start the season."