The no. 17 Rutgers men’s lacrosse team defeated no. 6 Penn State 11-9 on Saturday at SHI Stadium to start the 2021 season with a signature moment for the program.
It was an action packed beginning, as the Nittany Lions jumped out to a leads of 2-0 and 3-1 in the first period. However, the Scarlet Knights were spurred by Villanova transfer and preseason All-American Connor Kirst, who scored his first two goals on the banks to get RU going. It sparked a 4-1 run and the score was tied at 4 at the end of the period.
The game was back and forth with four ties until the final period when Rutgers took control. They finished on a 3-1 scoring run, including both the game winner and the final tally of the contest from Adam Charalambides. Both were assisted by Kirst.
A huge factor in the win was Rutgers winning 6 of 7 faceoffs in the fourth quarter. They had only won 5 of 16 entering the final frame.
“It was great for our team to be able to return to the field,” head coach Brian Brecht said. “They put a lot of time, commitment and training into being able to compete on game day. Our senior class, our captains, and our whole team was very motivated to be ready for this moment, and they captured it today.”
Connor Kirst had a memorable debut, finishing with three goals and four assists. Charalambides had a had trick as well, while freshman Shane Knobloch scored twice. All-American Kieran Mullins also scored the 100th goal of his career in the win.
Also making a huge impact was Colin Kirst, Connor’s brother who transferred from Lehigh. He made 15 saves in net to hold Penn State to single digits. PSU All-American Mac O’Keefe was held to just one goal.
“This was a very special day,” Connor Kirst said. “Seeing my brother in the locker room, knowing how much we love this place. It was emotional in the locker room with Colin. Just a great day, a special experience that I’ll never forget. To start off like this was awesome. It was a long time coming, finally getting to play someone else. We were able to put it together and get the win. It was great to be out there with my teammates in a real game situation. We’ll keep getting better as the year goes on since every game in this league is going to be a tough game.”
Rutgers earned its 10th win over a top ten team in program history and ninth victory over a ranked Big Ten opponent since joining the league. It was also the 44th win over Penn State all-time, the most against any opponent in program history.
Rutgers will head on the road to face No. 10 Ohio State next Saturday in Columbus. The Buckeyes beat Johns Hopkins 14-8 on Saturday.
You can listen to our interview with coach Brecht previewing the season from earlier this week here: