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Rutgers snaps 2-game losing streak with win at Fairfield

The Rutgers men's lacrosse team got a much-needed victory on the road last Saturday, defeating Fairfield 8-4 in a defensive showdown. This win ends a two-game skid for the No. 20 Scarlet Knights (3-2) and could generate momentum as they look toward another two-game home stand.

After trading sores in the opening 10 minutes, Rutgers took control of the game with three unanswered scores to end the half up 4-1. Sophomore attack Adam Charalambides had a pair and midfielders junior Owen Mead and sophomore Ryan Gallagher both netted goals of their own to give the Knights control of the game. 

The Stags' (1-2) Frankie Labetti would counter with a goal to make it a 4-2 game heading into the break.

Coming out of the half, Rutgers would continue its persistence offensively, scoring four unanswered goals to take an 8-2 lead midway through the fourth period. This stretch was highlighted by a tough Knights defense. 

Fairfield wouldn’t get its first goal of the second half until Travis Ford got on the board with 5:26 left in the fourth. Ford would get another consolation goal for the Stags with 4:12 remaining to make it an 8-4 ball game.

Much of the credit for this win has to go to fifth-year senior goalie Max Edelmann, who managed 17 saves on 21 shots on goal for a season-high 81 save percentage. 

This was the first game of the season in which Rutgers conceded less than 10 goals defensively. It was largely thanks to limiting quality opportunities for Fairfield — more than half of the shots Edelmann faced weren’t on target.

"We’re winning our matchups with our defensive midfielders,” Edelmann said. "We’re clearing well and really just getting aggressive with our guys on-ball.”

The Knights' attack was shorthanded heading into this one, as junior attack and leading goal-scorer Kieran Mullins was out for the second week in a row due to injury. Charalambides stepped up in his absence, leading Rutgers in points with 2 goals and two assists. 

Other key contributors offensively were Mead, who finished with a hat trick to lead the Knights in scoring for a second week in a row, and Gallagher, who started in Mullins’s place and finished with a goal and an assist.

The faceoff unit has been a two-man unit of fifth-year senior Alex Schoen and true freshman Michael Ott, since fifth-year senior Connor Harryman went down with an injury early in the St. John’s game three weeks ago. 

Harryman finally made his return in this game, but saw limited action, as he was 5 of 16 faceoffs on the day. Ott was the primary faceoff taker in this game, going 6 for 10 against the Stags.

“Faceoffs are all about matchups,” said head coach Brian Brecht. “Ott matched up well against Fairfield’s faceoff guy (Labetti)."

Having broken the two-game skid, Rutgers will now look forward to a home matchup against its in-state rival, Princeton. The schedule also poses a challenge for the Knights, as they will have three days of rest before facing Lehigh on Tuesday night.

It's going to be a big week to prepare and get guys healthy," Brecht said. “It's gonna be about us — how well can we play out of the basic sets and how well we play out of our fundamental system.”

For updates on the Rutgers men's lacrosse team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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