The Rutgers men’s lacrosse team opened its 2019 campaign on Saturday afternoon among great expectations to have a breakthrough season. There were some encouraging signs, most notably the return of Adam Charalambides, as the Scarlet Knights led by as much as 8 goals and ultimately defeated Lafayette 14-8.
Rutgers started fast as Charalambides, the 2016 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, set the tone in his first game in three seasons by scoring the first goal and assisting on the second one. Head coach Brian Brecht said earlier this week in our season preview that his recovery from two season ending ACL injuries had gone well and Charalambides looked none bit rusty in his return. He finished with four goals and 1 assist, proving that will be a major piece to the puzzle this season once again.
In his first game action since 2016, Adam Charalambides led #RUMLax to a victory with a 4-goal performance. He breaks down how it felt to be back on the field in a Rutgers win: pic.twitter.com/9rWRQqPmwo— Rutgers Men's LAX (@RUmlax) February 2, 2019
Lafayette trailed by margins of 3-0 and 6-2 at the half before out scoring Rutgers 3-2 in the third quarter to trail by three goals entering the final frame. The game really opened up in the fourth quarter as Rutgers scored 6 goals to lead 14-6 with 6:56 to play. Lafayette ended the game with 2 goals well after the issue was decided. Rutgers is now 15-0 all-time against the Leopards
Kieran Mullins scored 3 goals and 2 assists while Mark Schachte was the third RU player to score multiple times finishing with 2 goals on just 2 shots, the first scores of his career. Also scoring their first career goals for Rutgers was David Sprock and Michael Sanguinetti.
Another difference maker was Connor Harryman, the transfer from Towson, who won 22 of 25 faceoffs, including being perfect in the second half, along with 14 ground balls in his Rutgers debut.
Ben Pounds was in the net for Rutgers, making his first career start, and made 8 saves in the game. Returning starter Max Edelmann did not play due to an injury but he is not expected to be out long term.
As a team, Rutgers held a 44-22 advantage with ground balls and held a 28-16 edge with shots on goal. Four players started for the first time in their careers and eleven players made their Rutgers debut in the win.
Head coach Brian Brecht had this to say regarding the season opening victory: “I was happy for the guys today. We have to prepare and be ready for anything whether its weather, early season starts, or the opponent. It’s hard to win games at this level. We started off at home with a win. I thought it was a great effort by us. Kieran Mullins and Adam Charalambides did a great job, and the chemistry keeps growing between those two. We controlled the faceoffs and the ground balls, which was very helpful. And our short-stick and rope unit did a great job with their matchups and helping us with the tempo in going from defense to offense.”
The 12th ranked Scarlet Knights will head on the road for their second game of the 2019 campaign next Saturday against St. John’s, which will be the season opener for the Johnnies.