The No. 7 Rutgers men’s lacrosse team swept the season series with Penn State on Saturday in Happy Valley and made history in the process. The 22-10 triumph was the largest margin of victory for RU against a Big Ten opponent since joining the conference in 2014. The win also clinched a second place finish in the Big Ten for Rutgers, who are now 6-2. The regular season title was claimed by no. 3 Maryland after an 8-0 start and two victories over the Scarlet Knights.
The Scarlet Knights had opened this season with an 11-9 win over then no. 6 PSU at SHI Stadium to claim the Friendship Trophy, which was not on the line in the rematch.
Rutgers jumped out to a commanding 11-1 lead on Saturday behind a 9-0 scoring run and Penn State never recovered. The closest the game got after that point was 12-4 after an early third quarter goal by PSU, but the Scarlet Knights led by as many as 14 goals on two different occasions.
RU outshot Penn State by an unthinkable margin of 75-36 and held a 48-39 advantage in ground balls. The 22 goals allowed by PSU was the most they’ve allowed since 2010.
The trio of Adam Charalambides, Kieran Mullins and Connor Kirst led the offensive explosion once again. Charalambides and Mullins each had a team high five goals. Kirst had four goals and three assists for a team high seven points, as well as seven ground balls and two forced turnovers. David Sprock added a goal and two assists, while fellow midfielder Shane Knobloch had two assists. There were seven other Scarlet Knights who scored a goal and they were Ryan Gallagher, Bobby Russo, Brennan Kamish, Tommy Coyne, Ross Scott, Eric Civetti and Ethan Rall.
The Rutgers defense forced 23 turnovers by the Nittany Lions and Zach Masessa had a team high of four. Goalkeeper Colin Kirst made 12 saves and collected five ground balls in the victory. Penn State’s leading scorer, Mac O’Keefe was held to just two goals, both coming in the final three minutes of the game.
“It thought we had a great week of practice preparing for this game,” said Rutgers head coach Brian Brecht. “I was very proud of that. I was happy with the whole effort, they came ready to go. From the defensive effort to team playing with a lot of energy and juice. Bobby Russo was outstanding, he blanketed Mac O’Keefe all day. Ethan Rall was outstanding, he’s so slick and savvy. Our attack had a great game, I think very highly of them, what a complete offensive performance from them, both in six-on-six offense and transition. We were really able to put it all together. I’m really proud of how they’ve handled things. I like this group a lot and how they go about things. Give them credit, they are figuring things out, working hard, understanding their opponents. I thought it was probably one of the most complete performances that I’ve been a part of.”
Rutgers scored 22 goals for the third time this season and it was the third time they have a double digit margin of victory as well.
By clinching second place despite two regular season games remaining, Rutgers earned a bye in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. The semifinals take place on May 6 at Penn State.
The Scarlet Knights host John Hopkins on Saturday, April 17 at 5 p.m. for both Senior Day and Alumni Appreciation Day. A limited amount of tickets for the regular season home finale can be purchased online.