The #9 ranked Rutgers men’s lacrosse team headed to #19 Ohio State on Saturday afternoon needing a victory to ensure they earned a berth to the Big Ten Tournament next week. While they did advance to the conference tournament after Michigan upset Penn State, the Scarlet Knights fell behind the Buckeyes early and were never able to catch up, losing 10-7. It was a crippling loss that dropped Rutgers to 9-5 overall and just 2-3 in Big Ten play, finishing in fourth place. Their hopes of making the NCAA Tournament were damaged quite a bit with this defeat.
Ohio State jumped out to a 2-0 lead just four minutes into the game and never looked back. The closest Rutgers got was cutting the score to 4-3 behind a goal from Christian Mazzone and headed to halftime very much still in it.
Unfortunately, the Buckeyes dominated the action in the third quarter, outscoring Rutgers 4-0 in the frame. It was too much of a deficit to overcome and Rutgers was down as many as five goals before losing by three.
The loss also put a damper on another tremendous accomplishment by senior Jules Heningburg, who by scoring 2 goals and adding 2 assists in the game, moved into second place all-time in program history and now has 204 career points. Here is his first goal late in the game that moved him up the Rutgers record books:
He leads the Big Ten with 69 points and 33 assists this season. Heningburg is now 9th all-time in program history with 88 assists as well.
Mazzone had 2 goals on the day, while Casey Rose had a goal and an assist. Ryan Gallagher added two assists. Kieran Mullins and Tommy Coyne had one goal apiece. Goalie Max Edelmann made 6 saves.
Rutgers now has a rematch against top seeded Maryland (11-2; 4-1), who won a thrilling triple overtime game over Johns Hopkins on Saturday. In the first head to head matchup this season just two weeks ago, the Scarlet Knights led then #1 Maryland 9-8 in the fourth quarter, but ultimately lost 11-10. Rutgers will look for redemption, as their backs are against the wall in a must win situation to extend their season. If they are victorious in the semifinals against the Terps, they would then face either Ohio State or John Hopkins, who they also led late but lost by one goal earlier this season.
The Big Ten Tournament takes place in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the Scarlet Knights face the Terps this Thursday, May 3rd at 5:00 p.m. The game will shown live on BTN. With the loss Saturday to Ohio State, Rutgers will fall out of the top ten of the national rankings and will certainly drop from their RPI ranking of 12 from this past week. It likely means Rutgers will not only need to upset #3 ranked Maryland, but also need to win the Big Ten Championship to secure an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. It’s a tall task, but one that they are capable of doing, as the talented squad has four ranked wins this season and one goal losses to the top two seeds in the Big Ten.
After just missing out on the NCAA’s with an at-large berth the previous two seasons, Rutgers can control their own destiny next weekend, but will need back to back victories over teams they lost to during the regular season. Of course, it’s possible a win over Maryland could be enough. However, for a program that’s been on the outside looking in on the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons, they can’t afford to put themselves in the same position again, because the same result is likely. It’s now or never time for the Scarlet Knights, who can redeem themselves after several heartbreaking defeats and can change the narrative of this season in a major way. We’ll have a full preview ahead of Thursday’s semifinal game against Maryland.