No. 11 Rutgers puts down tough Delaware squad, 15-10
The Rutgers men's lacrosse team had revenge on its mind Saturday night against Delaware.
A year ago, ranked No. 1 in the country, the Scarlet Knights were upset on the road by the Blue Hens. Ever since then, they've had this game circled on their calendar.
They made good on that motivation, going on an 8-1 run to close the game against a pesky Delaware squad to come out with a 15-10 win.
It wasn't easy, as the Blue Hens went on a 5-0 run spanning the second and third quarters to take a 9-7 lead and put the pressure on No. 11 Rutgers.
But just like a week prior against then-No. 13 Syracuse, the Knights took over in crunch time, scoring 7 straight goals and putting to rest any thought of a second straight upset for Delaware.
"Every win is so important," said head coach Brian Brecht. "You can't just come out here and expect to win, you have to earn it."
The Blue Hens absorbed the early punch from Rutgers, coming back from an early 7-4 deficit to take the lead at 9-7 with 11:46 left in the third quarter.
But the Knights' offense figured things out and was unstoppable down the stretch.
Four Rutgers players finished with hat tricks, including all three starters at attack.
Sophomore Kieran Mullins led the way with 4 goals and two assists, senior captain Jules Heningburg, freshman Tommy Coyne and redshirt junior midfielder Casey Rose each added 3 goals and an assist.
Rose said referring to the balanced effort, "Pick your poison. If you cover one thing heavy, someone else is gonna do their job as well ... We were just taking advantage of our opportunities and making them count."
With 9:37 left in the game and the Knights trying to kill a Delaware man-up situation, junior defender Garrett Michaeli picked off a pass and whipped the ball down the field to Coyne, who wrapped around the net for a goal to put Rutgers up 13-9.
Three minutes later, nearly an identical situation occurred, as Michaeli picked off the ball clean and fired a pass all the way down the field to Coyne, who put the Knights up 14-9 with 6:35 left. It was at that point that the Blue Hens were finished.
When Rutgers plays up-tempo and is scoring in transition, the team plays with an undeniable swagger and there are times where the Knights look like they can't be stopped.
"When Michaeli picked those off, we knew our whole game is just Nascar, just playing fast," Mullins said. "Once that occurs and we're clicking, we can't be stopped."
That was part of the stretch where Rutgers was not only dominant on offense, but on defense as well.
After Delaware's leading scorer Charlie Kitchen put one in with 11:46 left in the third quarter, him and the Blue Hens went scoreless for the next 23 minutes and 53 seconds, before Will Hirschmann had a garbage time goal with 2:53 left.
"Garrett is long, he's got a great stick and he does a good job of knocking down passes and picking them off ... Overall, (we had) a very good second half defensively," Brecht said.
Brecht and Rose both noted that the team simply was not playing well for most of the first half.
After the first 30 minutes, Delaware had a 25-18 advantage in shots, a 16-15 advantage in ground balls, won more faceoffs and had half as many turnovers as the Knights.
"I don't think we were playing well. We weren't playing well defensively. We were just watching instead of participating in the clearing game, in loose ball situations," Brecht said.
But in the final 30 minutes, the Blue Hens had 15 turnovers to Rutgers' four and missed two clears, while the Knights were a perfect 9 for 9. Rutgers also outshot Delaware 26-9 and scooped up more ground balls in a lopsided half.
When it was all said and done, the Knights proved why they were the better team in a convincing win.
Rose summed it up perfectly.
"It was a revenge game, and we wanted it more than them," he said.