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Entering its season final against Georgetown on Friday, the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team had nothing to lose and a history-changing victory to gain. With the knowledge that neither team had a chance to compete in the Big East Tournament, the Scarlet Knights played for a chance to be the first Rutgers team to defeat the Hoyas in program history. And for an entire half, it looked like the Knights would finally add that first check in the win column against Georgetown.
The last time the Rutgers men’s soccer team last made it to the Big East Tournament was two years ago. The amount of time that went by between the Scarlet Knights qualifying for the NCAA tournament was five years. The last time the Knights made it all the way to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament was a decade ago. But in the greatest single-season turnaround in Big East history, the Knights achieved all of those goals and more in earning The Daily Targum’s Team of the Year.
It is not often a coach can successfully change the culture of a program that struggled for years. In only his second year at the helm of the Rutgers men’s soccer team, head coach Dan Donigan orchestrated the greatest single-season turnaround in recent history and brought the Scarlet Knights to a level of national prominence it has not enjoyed in years. After nine successful seasons at Saint Louis that saw seven trips to the NCAA Tournament, Donigan took over a floundering Rutgers team in 2010.
When it comes to postseason tournaments, the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team’s final game against Georgetown technically holds no weight. Both the Scarlet Knights and the Hoyas found out they are ineligible to enter the Big East Tournament, and Saturday’s matchup is the final game of the season. But what the game lacks in conference drama, it more than makes up for it in history. No Rutgers team has ever defeated Georgetown in the history of college lacrosse.
Senior attackman Kevin Hover’s final season had been a quiet one before his final time putting on the white home jersey for the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team. Hover tallied only five goals in 13 games — a slow year, considering one year ago as a junior, he finished third on the team with 15 goals. But against Michigan last Saturday, Hover recorded his first hat trick of the season to make his final home game at Yurcak Field one to remember.
On the last night that nine seniors wore the white home jerseys for the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team, the Scarlet Knights faced a lowly Michigan team, which up until this year had strictly played on a club level. But the one-win Michigan squad did not give the seniors an easy sendoff at Yurcak Field. In a back-and-forth matchup in which the Wolverines tied it up three times and even took the lead, the Knights earned a 13-9 victory to send all nine seniors off of the field with one final home win.
With its loss to Syracuse last Saturday marking the fourth conference defeat this season, the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team saw any chance of making the Big East Tournament slip away. With two games left in the season, head coach Brian Brecht has been adamant the team still has plenty to play for. When the Scarlet Knights host Michigan tomorrow, nine seniors play on the grass of Yurcak Field for the final time. For Brecht, that should be more than enough inspiration.
The Rutgers men’s lacrosse team had a laundry list of things to worry about entering the ESPNU Warrior Classic last Saturday in Charlotte, N.C. In front of a nationally televised audience as well as 6,230 live fans, the Scarlet Knights had the unenviable task of taking on 13th-ranked Syracuse in the opening game. To top it all off, if the Knights did not come away with the win, they would not qualify for the Big East Tournament at the conclusion of the season.
Senior midfielder Mike Diehl has been the most physical force this season for the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team’s offense. Standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing 225 pounds, Diehl is the most imposing presence in the Scarlet Knights midfield. Diehl places third on the team in goals not only because of his stature, but also because his shooting skills give him an advantage in finding the back of the cage.
Entering his first season as head coach of the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team, Brian Brecht knew his one goal was to make the Big East Tournament. To do that, the Scarlet Knights needed three Big East wins. So far this season, four conference games came and went, with the Knights picking up losses in all of them except against bottom-of-the-division Providence.
The Rutgers men’s lacrosse team found itself in a familiar late-game comeback attempt against No. 13 Big East opponent Villanova on Saturday, eventually falling to the Wildcats, 14-9. Like most of the Scarlet Knights’ late surges this season, the comeback was necessary against Villanova because of a disaster of a first half for the Knights (5-6, 1-3) at Yurcak Field. By the time both teams entered halftime, Villanova (7-4, 3-0) already outscored the Knights, 11-2.
In its first game in a critical month of April, the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team takes to the grass of Yurcak Field for the first time this season to take on No. 13 Villanova. The conference stakes could not be any higher for the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers notched its first Big East win last week against Providence, but the victory marked only the first of three the Knights need to qualify for the tournament at the end of the season.
With the arrival of head coach Brian Brecht to the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team came a new approach to how the Scarlet Knights run their offense. For this season, the Knights offense primarily depends on the play of their midfielders. And to their credit, the midfield has responded. Time and time again, senior starters Mike Diehl and Will Mangan, along with freshman support Brian Goss, have been the backbone of Rutgers’ offense.
The first Big East win of the season eluded the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team for consecutive weeks. Not only could the Scarlet Knights not score that pivotal first conference win, but they also saw opportunities slip out of their reach. The third time proved to be the charm for the Knights on Saturday, as Rutgers overcame Providence in Rhode Island in overtime for an 8-7 win.
Two games into the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team’s four-game Big East stretch, the Scarlet Knights have seen their first two chances at a conference win slip through their fingers. St. John’s completed a comeback two weeks ago to steal a win from the Knights in the last two seconds of the game. The Knights failed to finish a comeback of their own a week later against No. 6 Notre Dame, which got off to a five-goal lead in the first five minutes of the contest.
As the Rutgers gymnastics team’s 2012 season began, those within the program viewed it for what it was: a passing of the torch.After 25 years with the Scarlet Knights, former head coach Chrystal Chollet-Norton resigned and former assistant coach Louis Levine took her place. In the first year of the Levine era, the new coach had pretty big shoes to fill.
Freshman midfielder Brian Goss has emerged in his rookie season as the perfect support for senior midfielders Mike Diehl and Will Mangan. But only a couple of years ago, the thought of wearing the scarlet and white jerseys of the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team was not on Goss’ mind at all. He was all set to bring his talents to Siena College in New York. All of that changed when former Scarlet Knights head coach Jim Stagnitta resigned last year after 10 seasons with the program.
In the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team’s first Big East matchup of the season last week, St. John’s denied the Scarlet Knights their first conference victory after completing a climb out of a 3-point hole in the last two seconds. The Knights found themselves on the other end of the spectrum Sunday against No. 6 Notre Dame, attempting to overcome the Fighting Irish’s early five-goal advantage.
When his first season as the new head coach of the Rutgers gymnastics team began, Louis Levine made one clear goal for the Scarlet Knights: improvement from meet to meet. As the Knights’ season came to a conclusion Saturday at the EAGL Championships, the culmination of their season-long improvement showed through. In its final performance of the year, Rutgers recorded its highest score of the season, 193.850, to finish in eighth place.
To qualify for a bid in the Big East Tournament, the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team needs only three wins in conference play. And for 59 straight minutes last weekend against St. John’s, the Scarlet Knights looked like they had their first of three pivotal wins on lock. Then the Johnnies scored with only 2 seconds left on the clock, and the Knights fell to 0-1 in conference play. Rutgers (4-4, 0-1) stays in the Big East on Sunday, traveling to Notre Dame.