As fate would have it, the hero of the game for Rutgers in its 17-11 victory over Johns Hopkins on Saturday was the longest tenured player on the roster. Adam Charalambides has endured three medical redshirt seasons due to injury, but he has persevered through it all. In returning for his seventh year, he has produced the best season of his storied career on the banks.
In Saturday’s win, Charalambides tied his career-high with six goals. By doing so, he moved past Mike Rinck for sole possesion of fourth place all-time with 140 goals for his Rutgers career. He also added two assists to lead the Scarlet Knights to a season sweep of the Blue Jays and third sweep overall (Penn State and Ohio State).
After Rutgers led 8-6 at halftime, the game was tied at 11-11 with 6:19 remaining in the third quarter. The Scarlet Knights dominated the rest of the way, ending senior day on a 6-0 run and holding JHU scoreless the final 21 minutes of the game. Charalambides was tremendous during that final stretch of the game by accounting for five of the six goals. He scored four times and assisted on another, including a hat trick in the final six minutes of the third period to give RU a three goal advantage entering the final frame.
In addition to the offensive firepower, the Rutgers defense came through at the end of the game. No stretch better highlighted the toughness of this team than when Johns Hopkins (2-7) had a three man advantage due to penalties against RU in the fourth period. Senior goalkeeper Colin Kirst kept JHU at bay by making a big save on his way to fifteen stops overall for the game.
Two other seniors had great performances as Connor Kirst delivered four goals and two assists, while Kieran Mullins had two goals and two assists in the win. Senior Brennan Kamish scored as well.
Mullins and Charalambides have meant so much to this program during their careers and this goal they teamed up on was a thing of beauty.
“Senior night is just a little bit more special,” Adam Charalambides said. “Everyone was amped. The boys played hard, you could see that energy. Each week, the process stays the same and we keep getting better, our chemistry is growing and that’s been huge coming down the stretch. I’m so thankful for my time here and the guys that have been a part of it.”
In the victory, RU outshot JHU 44-33 and held a 30-22 advantage in ground balls.
“I’m very proud of this team, it has been a special group,” head coach Brian Brecht said. “With what this senior class has been able to accomplish throughout their careers, their leadership on and off the field, I couldn’t be happier for them to earn a great conference win at home on Senior Day. To play well, have some of our seniors step up huge was great. Between seniors on the attack in Adam Charalambides, Kieran Mullins and Connor Kirst, on defense Jaryd Jean-Felix and Garrett Bullett and Colin Kirst in the goal, our rope unit with Zackary Franckowiak and Brennan Kamish, we had seniors playing really well to win on Senior Day and I’m happy for all of them. I was very pleased. We had a great week of practice, and when we practice well, we tend to have good success on the weekends. We had a huge performance in the second half and in the fourth quarter especially and what they were able to accomplish was great to see”
A major reason that Rutgers is having its best campaign in years is due to the 16 member senior class. It was great to see them honored on a night the team moved one step closer to earning the program’s first NCAA Tournament bid since 2004.
Saturday was also Alumni Appreciation Day. Rutgers honored the 35th anniversary of the 1986 NCAA Tournament team, the 30th anniversary of the 1991 NCAA Tournament team, the 20th anniversary reunion of the 2001 team and the decade of the 1960s. There was also a moment of silence before the game for two letterwinners that recently passed away, General Robert E. Kelley and Paul Joinnides.
Rutgers is now 7-2 playing a Big Ten only schedule and will close out the regular season next Sunday, April 25 at Michigan (2-7). It will be a noon start and will air live on ESPNU. The Scarlet Knights have already clinched the no. 2 seed and first round bye of the Big Ten Tournament. The semifinals will take place on May 6 in State College, PA.