On a beautiful spring day with a record-setting crowd of 5,223 in attendance at Shi Stadium to celebrate the life of legendary Knights coach and lacrosse ambassador Tom Hayes, the Rutgers lacrosse team picked themselves up off the mat with a furious 4th quarter comeback to earn the program’s 12th win of the season in overtime against the Penn State Nittany Lions. The program-record 12th win moves Rutgers to 12-2 overall and 4-1 in Big Ten play and further solidifies an NCAA tournament berth. Penn State drops to 3-10 and 1-4 in conference.
1st Quarter Action
The 1st quarter was a back and forth affair with each team netting three goals. Penn State star attack-man Jack Kelly and Rutgers attacker Mitch Bartolo each contributed two goals in the period. The Knights were highly inefficient on their shots, taking 15 while only finding the net 3 times. This would be a harbinger for things to come in this match. Maybe it was jitters on senior day with family watching and celebrated alums on the sidelines but Rutgers just couldn’t find the back of the net with consistency.
2nd Quarter Action
The game continued to be a back and forth affair, with the Knights tallying 6 goals and the Lions 5. Bartolo would add his third goal of the match and Ross Scott his second. With 1:44 left in the quarter, Tommy Coyne sent one home to tie the match 5-all and then Brennan Kamish would score with :44 left to put the Knights up 9-8 heading into halftime.
There were some positive signs in the first half, even though the game was much tighter than anticipated. Jonathan Dugenio, after a very rough couple of weeks, won 10 of 17 face-offs, including 7 of 11 in the 2nd quarter, to take the pressure off a Knights defense that was being exploited in transition by the Nittany Lions. The Knights defense did hold steady on penalties, holding Penn State scoreless on three man-up situations.
What a shot from Shane Knobloch!— Rutgers Men's LAX (@RUmlax) April 23, 2022
He finishes the feed from Ronan Jacoby for a 4-3 lead pic.twitter.com/MStKyN1A3F
3rd Quarter Action
Penn State started to assert control of the match, scoring four consecutive goals in five minutes and led 12-9 midway through the quarter. But, as Rutgers has done all season, the Knights countered with goals by Shane Knobloch at the 3:21 mark and Scott’s 3rd at the 2:38 mark to bring the Knights within a goal, trailing 12-11 heading into the final frame.
4th Quarter Action
Early goals by Jake Morin and Mark Sickler put the Nittany Lions back up three, 14-11. With all the momentum and victory in sight, the Lions sideline and fans in attendance were fired up and you could hear the dreaded Penn State cheer from the visitor’s section in the crowd.
At 6:37, the Knights finally found the back of the net on a goal by Ronan Jacoby to pull within two goals. Then at 5:04, Brian Cameron scored to inch the Knights within 1. Both goals were assisted by Knobloch.
In a tortuous five minute sequence for Knights fans, Penn State won the face-off and ran the clock precariously down. Rutgers got possession with two minutes left but turned the ball over. Penn State continued to wind the clock down, getting two shots off towards goal but the Knights’s defense forced them into a shot clock violation with :36 remaining. The Knights pushed the ball forward into the attack zone and called a timeout with :21 left.
That’s when coach Brecht called for an isolation play for Rutgers’s most explosive attack man. Scott would take the ball, search for a crease, and fire in his 24th goal of the season with :08 left on the game clock to send the match into overtime and the home crowd into a frenzy. Great players like Scott can put the team on their backs and erase an afternoon of frustration.
ROSS SCOTT GOAL!— Rutgers Men's LAX (@RUmlax) April 23, 2022
It's a TIE GAME pic.twitter.com/M5nm0EGbyC
Dugenio would win the crucial face-off with Ethan Rall scooping up the grounder and the Knights would control possession. Ryan Gallagher got the first shot off a minute into the 4:00 period and even though he missed, Penn State was penalized for a late hit on Gallagher, putting Rutgers in a man-up situation with 3:00 left.
At 2:21, on another assist by Knobloch, Ross Scott would take the pass behind the net and make it look too easy, wrapping around the front of the net and notching his 25th goal of the season and inch Rutgers ever closer towards another NCCA tournament berth. Thank the heavens for Mr. Scott.
Oh it’s never easy being a Knights fan but the team somehow found a way to win and that’s what separates great teams from the rest of the field.
Ross Scott is a treasure. A career-high five goals. Shane Knobloch is one heckuva player. A career-high six points - two goals and four assists. Ethan Rall scooped six ground balls - including a crucial one in overtime to prevent Penn State from ever touching the ball.
Rutgers goes undefeated against every team in conference except Maryland for the second consecutive season.
Senior Day Notables
The Rutgers Athletics Communications Department provided the following information regarding graduating seniors and graduate students and those that are committed to returning in 2023:
Graduating Seniors / Graduate students: Two attackmen: Mitch Bartolo and Eric Civetti. Seven midfielders: Ryan Gallagher, Ronan Jacoby, Andrew Kim, Justin Kim, Joe Peterson, Michael Sanguinetti and David Sprock. Six defensemen: Brad Apgar, Bryant Boswell, Jaryd Jean-Felix, Bobby Russo, Jack Stahanczyk and Jonathan Taub. Three goalkeepers: Toby Burgdorf, Colin Kirst and Stephen Russo. Two long-stick midfielders: Ethan Rall and Brian Ward. Four short-stick defensive midfielders: Tommy Coyne, Cole Daninger, Zackary Franckowiak and Brennan Kamish. Three face-off specialists: Michael Ott, Sam Stephan and Moriah Yousefi.
Eight of those seniors participating in the Senior Day ceremony committed to a return for the 2023 season:
Defenseman Brad Apgar
Attackman Eric Civetti
Midfielder Andrew Kim
Midfielder Justin Kim
Long-Stick Midfielder Ethan Rall
Defenseman Bobby Russo
Midfielder David Sprock
Defenseman Jack Stahanczyk
Rutgers honored the 1972 and 1992 RU teams at the game, along with all RU Hall of Famers. The program also hosted a ‘Celebration of Life’ event for Tom Hayes pregame.
The Big Ten Conference Tournament. Rutgers gets a first round bye and returns to action Thursday, May 5th in College Park, Maryland for a semifinals matchup. Team TBD.