It was a big home weekend for Rutgers sports. It started off with the Women's Lacrosse team upsetting No. 15 Ohio State on Thursday (the weekend still starts on Thursday night at Rutgers, doesn't it?). It was the first Big Ten win of the season for RU. And interestingly, last year the men topped tOSU at home for their only conference win in 2015.
Different year, different results.
Friday night saw the No. 17 Nittany Lions come in to High Point Solutions Stadium for the Knights final home game of the season. It was a match up of ranked teams, with positioning for the Big Ten tourney on the line as well as for possible NCAA bids.
The night started off in grim fashion for Rutgers as Penn State built up a 4-0 lead in the first eight minutes of the game. And despite the Knights scoring less than a minute after PSU's fourth score, the visitors built a 6-1 lead at the close of the first period, including a crushing score with one second to go.
Did I say "crushing"? Make that motivating. The second period was a complete reversal of the first as Jules Heningburg scored four of his six goals on the night and Rutgers tied the game at the half.
At halftime, Rutgers honored its alumni, celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the 1986 squad and the 25th Anniversary of the 1991 team.
It was a great group that came back for Alumni Appreciation Day. Thank You to our Alumni for all their support! pic.twitter.com/vFxzKrBmT4— Rutgers Men's LAX (@RUmlax) April 23, 2016
See how easy it is for a coach to honor the past?
Tons of history with RU men's lacrosse program. Brecht does a great job honoring it. https://t.co/iHekqyvtKj— Keith Sargeant (@KSargeantNJ) April 22, 2016
The second half opened the way the first half had: Penn State scoring quickly and way too easily. Three scores put the Nitts up 10-7, but the Knights were just getting warmed up. Scores by Scott Bieda and Heningburg kept the Knights in it. Less than a minute into the fourth, Jeff George scored his second goal of the night to bring RU within one at 13-12. Three minutes later, Bieda netted his second of three goals to put RU even. Then it was Henningburg with the go ahead score.
The game winning goal, at 7:12 of the fourth, was a sweet "interception" of the keeper's clear and a quick turnaround shot by Heningburg, his 33rd goal of the year. It was Rutgers' first lead of the game and the goal was good enough to make SportsCenter.
Rutgers finished its home schedule 7-0.
With its win, Rutgers qualifies for its first(top four teams, May 5-7 at Johns Hopkins). And while Maryland put out this tweet:
Maryland Terrapins (@umterps) April 25, 2016
Rutgers is still in the mix for that title. Rutgers travels to OSU for a finale on Saturday night while UMd plays Hopkins on the road. If Hopkins beat the Terps and Rutgers wins, all three teams would be 4-1 in conference play.
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Rutgers moved up three spots to No. 16 in this week's Inside Lacrosse rankings and is at 19 in the RPI. Maryland is the highest ranking B1G squad at No. 3, followed by Johns Hopkins at No. 8. PSU dropped two spots to 19.