Heningburg's 6 goals power No. 18 Rutgers to win over No. 13 Syracuse
There's a reason that the Rutgers men's lacrosse team has only lost at home one time in the last three seasons, with that only loss coming in triple overtime against a team that would go on to win the National Championship.
On Sunday afternoon at High Point Solutions Stadium, with alumni on the sidelines and a record-crowd of 5,048 fans in the seats, the then-No. 18 Scarlet Knights (6-2) delivered their biggest win of the season, a 14-10 triumph over then-No. 13 Syracuse (3-3).
Senior attacker and captain Jules Heningburg took over the game in the fourth quarter and tied a career-high with 6 goals to go along with two assists.
When his team needed him the most, he stepped up.
"He's our lead guy. He's an All-American for a reason," said head coach Brian Brecht on Heningburg. "He's a two-time captain for a reason ... To see him really have a big-time game, effort and performance over one of the storied, most tradition-rich programs, in front of the alumni and the fans to see here in New Jersey. I'm so happy for him, being a New Jersey guy and being able to do it in front of all his friends and family."
After Nate Solomon scored 2 straight goals in the third quarter to put the Orange up 8-7, Heningburg went to work.
He scored 4 goals and had an assist over a 12-minute span that saw now-No. 11 Rutgers turn that 1-goal deficit into a 14-8 lead.
His most notable play happened when he scored to tie the game at 8.
Senior faceoff specialist Alex Schoen won the faceoff clean after Solomon's 2nd score and passed it to Heningburg, who dropped it and subsequently knocked it out of bounds for a turnover. But when Syracuse goalie Dom Madonna went for an outlet pass, Heningburg cut it off and put the ball in the back of the net.
That play signaled a momentum shift where the Knights seemingly could not be stopped. They had the energy and the swagger to blow past the Orange in the final 15 minutes with relative ease.
"I think we started to roll a little bit," Heninburg said. "We got in that groove we get in the stadium. After that, the guys were chomping at the bit and the rest of it took care of itself."
And while Heningburg and the offense deserve credit for tying a season-high with 14 goals, not to be forgotten is the stellar defensive effort by Rutgers.
While Syracuse came into the game averaging 11.2 turnovers per game, the Orange committed 22, twice its usual output.
The visitors were also 13-for-17 on clears and went on two separate stretches of 15 plus minutes without scoring a goal.
"I love our defense," Brecht said. "... We got back to the basics of taking care of ourselves. (We did) what we needed to do in our own defensive sets and systems and personnel to play to our strengths."
Senior captain Michael Rexrode was at the forefront of that performance and helped shut out Syracuse for the first 13 minutes and 40 seconds of the fourth quarter, while the offense piled on the goals.
Even without recording any statistics, Rexrode was still able to have an impact on the game.
"Sometimes we gotta remind ourselves to trust ourselves. We're the best athletes on the field. We know that. We believe that," he said.
Senior midfielder and captain Christian Mazzone did a little bit of everything on Sunday, scooping up six ground balls to go with his 3 goals and one assist. Brecht referred to Mazzone as a "warrior" after the team's win over Lehigh, as he consistently does things for the team that may not always show up on the stat sheet.
Sunday's win was the team's best performance of the season and leaves them in a very good spot with one non-conference game left against Delaware before Big Ten play starts.
"It's a great win for our alumni," Brecht said. "It's a great win for our administration that has given us so much support and it's a great win for the Big Ten."