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Rutgers men’s lacrosse routs St. Johns 23-6

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And Colin Kirst named to Tewaaraton Award Watch List

Rutgers Freshman Dante Kulas
(Ben Solomon/Rutgers Athletics)

Rutgers and St. Johns matched up on a beautiful, 60-degree February Saturday at DaSilva Field n Jamaica, New York for the Johnnies’s season opener and it certainly appeared the Red Storm had a lot of rust to shake off.

1st Quarter

Ronan Jacoby opened the scoring a couple minutes into the quarter, taking the feed at the top of the key from Mitch Bartolo and firing one in cleanly from 10 yards out. At 9:30, Brian Cameron put the Knights up 2-nil on a skipped pass in front of the visitor’s net. Bartolo then fired one in at 7:00 to quickly put Rutgers up 3-nil.

At 5:40, the Red Storm got on the board, trimming RU’s lead to 3-1 as sophomore Jack Lutfi found himself wide open in front of the net, putting one past Kirst at near point-blank range. Kirst had a nice save on a missile from the Red Storm at 2:30. Ross Scott then closed out the scoring in the quarter with 2 ticks left on the shot clock, slicing one past the Saint Johns freshman keeper Kaden Quirk. End of 1st Quarter: Rutgers 4, St. Johns 1.

2nd Quarter

Cameron put RU up 5-1 at 12:00, coming from back of the next and finding a tiny crease for his 2nd goal of the game. The lead increased to 6-1 as Knobloch picked off an errant pass by the Johnies on their end, taking it all the way to goal and sending it home. At 5:12, the rout was officially on with some beautiful ball movement from senior Justin Kim to freshman Dante Kulas behind the net, then quickly back out to Cameron for a nifty behind the back shot for a 7-1 lead. Less than a minute later, the lead grew to 8-1 as freshman attack man Kulas put this one in himself. End of 2nd Quarter: Rutgers 8, St. Johns 1.

3rd Quarter

Less than a minute in and the onslaught continued with DuGenio winning yet another face-off, Ethan Rall scooping up the grounder in RU’s end and ran unimpeded deep into Johnnies territory where he found Cameron for his way-too-easy 4th goal of the contest to put RU up 9-1.

The Red Storm finally ended their drought with some nice passing, the final one to senior Patrick Ednie, to trim the lead to 9-2. They then quickly added another goal to show some signs of life as Dylan Willis fired one in to make the score 9-3 RU.

At 9:50, Red Storm goalie Quirk had a nice save quickly erased by a picked-off careless pass in front of the net, leading to Cameron’s 5th goal from point-blank range. The Knights quickly pushed their lead out to 11-3 as Sam Stephan lost the face-off but didn’t give up on the play and dislodged the ball free, allowing Tommy Coyne to scoop up the grounder on the run and find a streaking Bartolo down the left side for the goal. DuGenio won the subsequent face-off, got the ball out to Bartolo, who passed to Scott behind the Red Storm goal and then he took it from there, wrapping in front of the crease and scoring, ballooning RU’s lead to 12-3.

When it rains it pours. In a flurry of one-sided action, at 8:11, Kulas rocketed one in for a 13-3 RU advantage. Kulas tallied his 3rd goal and first hat trick at 6:49. Scott then put one in at 5:33 for a 15-3 lead. At 4:11, yet another Scott goal for a 16-3 RU lead. Then at 3:47 Scott makes it 17-3. The scoring mercifully ended in the quarter at :56 as Kulas notched his 4th goal. End of 3rd: Rutgers 18 St. Johns 3.

4th Quarter

At 11:23, Junior Connor Kalmus scored St. Johns’s 4th goal of the game and Brian Kelly followed this up at 9:17 for the Johnnies’s 5th.

In one final Scarlet flurry, Knobloch logged RU’s 19th goal at the 6:05 mark and 20 seconds later, Justin Kim tallied RU’s 20th goal. Sophomore attack man Jack Aimone from Ringoes, NJ joined the scoring parade and put in the Knights’s 21st goal at 4:21. Teresky added the 22nd at 2:36 and Aimone netted his 2nd goal of the game at 2:02. St. Johns Senior Jonathan Huber closed out the scoring with 5 seconds left to mercifully end the match. Final Score: Rutgers 23 St. Johns 6.

My Final Thoughts

St. Johns looked like a team who had not played a game yet. While they showed some ability defensively, causing 10 RU turnovers, the Red Storm were completely out of synch on offense and could never mount a threat.

Welcome Dante Kulas. The Ontario, Canada freshman looks quick, sharp and ready to join the party with Scott, Bartolo, and Cameron at attack. After these first 3 games, I’m left to wonder how much of Charalambides and Mullins’s scoring was in part a product of the Rutgers system as it certainly looks like this team hasn’t lost a step offensively. Credit to the coaching staff for continuing to reload talent.

Face-offs, which really held this team back in 2021, appear to no longer be an issue as of yet. DuGenio won 10 of 11 in the first half and has really stepped up the last two games after being pulled in the opener. Coach Brecht has strong depth on the bench to switch things up with Stephan and Romanek.

Notable: Colin Kirst on Tewaaraton Award Watch List

The returning and preseason All-American selection was tabbed as one of the initial players listed for the accolade which annually honors the top male and female college lacrosse player in the United States. The selection committees are made up of premier collegiate coaches and are appointed annually by The Tewaaraton Foundation. This is the premiere college lacrosse award, equivalent to the Heisman in football.

Postgame Notes

  • The 23 goals were the most in a game for the Scarlet Knights since 2010
  • This was RU’s eighth straight win over the Red Storm.
  • The team opens with a 3-0 record for the second straight year.
  • Ross Scott had a career-high five goals and six points.
  • Freshman Dante Kulas had his first collegiate goals and assists in the game, finishing with four goals and two assists.
  • Brian Cameron matched his previous career-high with four goals, his most in a game as a Scarlet Knight.
  • In his sixth season as a Scarlet Knight, Michael Sanguinetti has scored in three consecutive games for the first time in his career.
  • Jonathan Dugenio was 16-of-20 on faceoffs with 10 ground balls against his old team.
  • Goalkeeper Toby Burgdorf, the Providence transfer, made his Rutgers debut, playing the fourth quarter and making three saves.
  • Rutgers led in shots (59-29), faceoffs (23-9) and ground balls (26-22).

UP NEXT

No. 9 Rutgers returns home to face its first ranked opponent of the year. The Scarlet Knights host No. 11 Army next Saturday at 1 p.m. at SHI Stadium.