No. 18 Rutgers picks up road win over No. 16 Lehigh
The Rutgers men's lacrosse team needed a bounce-back performance on Wednesday night at No. 17 Lehigh.
The No.16 Scarlet Knights delivered, coming through in the clutch to take down the Mountain Hawks by a score of 8-7 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Sophomore attacker Kieran Mullins led the way for Rutgers, scoring 2 goals and adding three assists. He has been heating up as of late, with 11 points in his last two games after having a slow start to the season scoring-wise.
In a completely different manner than last week's overtime loss to Princeton, the Knights were able to outplay their opposition in the fourth quarter, making just enough plays at the end of the game to secure the victory.
"Our strong defensive play was huge. We were fundamentally sound, we took care of ourselves, we did what we needed to do and we played to our strengths," said head coach Brian Brecht.
The deciding goal came with 4:17 remaining in the game, when Mullins stood behind the net and waited patiently before finding a cutting senior attacker Jules Heningburg, who buried it with ease to put Rutgers up for good.
Senior goalie Max Edelmann stepped up late once again, saving a Mickey Fitzpatrick shot with 2:46 remaining, after a questionable call on the previous faceoff gave Lehigh possession. The refs appeared to call a foul on the Mountain Hawks and give the Knights the ball, before switching the decision right as Rutgers was ready to start play.
On the ensuing possession for the Knights, with the shot clock turned on, Lehigh's Teddy Leggett was called for a 1-minute slash with 59.7 seconds left. Rutgers was a man up for the rest of the game and just had to run the clock out.
But Heningburg got trapped in a double team behind the net and turned it over with 25 seconds left. The Mountain Hawks cleared it and called timeout with 10 seconds on the clock, but on their final possession, junior long-stick midfielder Kyle Pless knocked the ball free and effectively ended the game, giving the Knights their second road win of the season.
Brecht said that it was the exact response he was looking for after Saturday's effort.
"No doubt about it. We took care of ourselves. We went out and played the way we needed to offensively and defensively," he said.
On offense, Rutgers turned the ball over just 12 times, a number that Brecht previously said will generally lead to good things for his team.
Lehigh gave it away 15 times, with the Knights forcing seven of them.
Senior captain and midfielder Christian Mazzone led the way, forcing three turnovers to go along with his 2 goals.
"Mazzone continues to be a warrior for us all over the field," Brecht said. "Offensively, defensively, in transition. He's certainly been the heart and soul (of Rutgers)."
Brecht also noted that Rutgers needed to play "right away" to get the team back in the right mindset relatively quickly.
The maturity of the team, highlighted by its 14 seniors, was ultimately the difference, as the Knights went on the road and picked up a ranked win on the heels of a heartbreaking loss.
"I think we were confident and very focused getting into this game," Mullins said. "We game-planned well for a short week ... We definitely bounced back and brought the energy so it was great for us to get this win."