It’s officially Lacrosse season! RU matched up against a stout D1 opponent in LIU, formerly a perennial D2 championship contender and now in their 2nd season in the Northeast Conference after the Brooklyn and Long Island (C.W. Post) campuses merged.
The real-feel temperature when the ball dropped was ten degrees and the cold weather and opening game jitters certainly led to shaky play by both squads. RU got off to a fast start with two goals in the first two minutes - the first by junior Ross Scott and second by Penn transfer Mitch Bartolo. Bartolo notched his second goal at 8:40 of the 1st quarter for a 3-0 advantage.
Mitch Bartolo showing the on that last goal. Rutgers still leads LIU 3-0 in the 1st pic.twitter.com/n47bdsfkwe— Rutgers Men's LAX (@RUmlax) February 5, 2022
Senior Eric Civetti put the Knights up 4-nil, sliding in front of the net to catch a beautiful pass from Scott behind the net, and sending it home.
The first quarter ended with the Knights up 4-0 on the Sharks and having a shots advantage of 7 to 0.
RU upped their lead 5-0 as Scott did his best Kiernan Mullins impersonation behind the goal, faking left, darting right, and dodging in front of the net to put one past Sharks All-American goalie Will Mark. The lead grew to 6-0 as senior midfielder Sanguinetti slung the ball in over his shoulder with a little razzle-dazzle.
The Sharks got on the board as junior Sean Boll got one past Kirst, cutting the Knight’s lead to 6-1. At 4:04 of the quarter, Sam Stephan replaced at ineffective Dugenio, winning his first face-off, diving on the ground for the loose ball, and kicking it out to Ethan Rall, who found Bartolo in stride. Bartolo sent it home for his 3rd goal of the half to put RU up 7-1 as the former Penn midfielder looked very comfortable in an attack role. Sharks Grad student Will Snelders closed out the first half scoring. The teams went to halftime with RU up 7-1 and holding an 18-7 shot advantage.
Of note in the first half:
- LIU with 16 turnovers
- RU hit the pipe 3 times on attack
- All-American Sharks goalie Will Mark had 11 saves, many of them at point-blank range. He single-handedly prevented this contest from getting out of hand.
- Sam Stephan was 3 for 3 on face-offs. A nice start for the Mount Saint Marys transfer.
Senior Ronan Jacoby, the Wesleyan transfer, took the feed from Gallagher in open space in front of the net and notched his first goal as a Knight, putting RU up 8-2 at the 13:12 mark. The Sharks added two quick goals to cut RU’s lead to 8-4. Kirst had a big point-blank save at the ten-minute mark to slow LIU’s momentum.
At 7:45, Jacoby notched his 2nd goal, firing one in from 12 yards out to put RU up 9-4. 20 seconds later, Bartolo netted his fourth goal, initially saved by Mark, but the ball trickled in across the line to put RU up 10-4. At 5:30, Bobby Russo got in the scoring column, firing one in from 12 yards out to balloon RU’s lead to 11-4. Kirst put on a clinic late in the 3rd quarter with multiple saves on a flurry of LIU point-blank shots. LIU closed the scoring in the 3rd quarter as Behlen flipped in a beautiful behind-the-back shot with :04 seconds left.
At 11:21, Knobloch took the pass in transition and sent it home from 8 yards out. A minute later, Bartolo rifled a shot in from 12 yards to put RU up 13-5. With the lead holding, RU starting to sub in the bench at the 7:30 mark. LIU notched a goal at 4:05 to close the score to 13-6. Long Island native and sophomore Nick Teresky followed by firing a long shot and rolled one in across the goal line for his first career point at Rutgers to put the Knights up 14-6 at the 2:59 mark. Sanguinetti then wrapped up the scoring at the 1:04 mark with his 2nd goal of the game.
My Final thoughts
Rutgers put away a solid LIU team that figures to rack up some wins this season with their talent-laden roster.
The new attack trio of Ross, Bartolo, and Jacoby looked like a cohesive unit in game one. That should put a scare into opponents moving forward.
Senior Bobby Russo shut down Richie LaCalandra, 3rd in the nation in points per game last season.
Sam Stephan, inserted into the game at face-off for a struggling DuGenio, won 8 of his 11 face-offs.
Freshman Luke Romanek took the 2nd to final face-off. He won 96% of them last season at New Hampton School in NH.
“We had a great week of practice. We knew had to just go out and execute and play our game, and that’s what we did. We played hard, and I think that showed. We fell back on our fundamentals and what we do, not worrying about their game plan, but we just play our game and go out and make plays. We played hard, we played with energy. Some good things out there today, and we’ll keep going over it in film and moving forward. It’s about learning from our mistakes, cleaning those up. We’re never satisfied and just need to keep bringing that energy every day.”
- Mitch Bartolo
Rutgers will play host to Marist on Wednesday at 3 p.m.
- Rutgers improved to 10-1 in season openers under head coach Brian Brecht, winning its 10th straight season opener.
- Brian Brecht won his 70th game as RU head coach.
- Rutgers debuts: Brad Apgar, Mitch Bartolo, Ronan Jacoby, Sam Stephan, Bryant Boswell
- Collegiate debuts: Dante Kulas, Remington Reynolds, Luke Romanek
- First start at Rutgers: Brad Apgar, Mitch Bartolo, Ronan Jacoby