It’s the biggest matchup to date for the 10-1 (2-0 B1G) Scarlet Knights with the winner taking sole possession of 1st place in the Big Ten conference. With just two regular season conference games after this weekend, the Knights or Terrapins will find themselves in prime pole position for the regular season B1G championship.
Following up their rout of Ohio State, Rutgers is coming off a stout, physical 12-7 defensive win over Johns Hopkins in which Bobby Russo pulled his best Caleb McConnell impersonation and was named the Big Ten’s defensive player of the week. Russo scooped up a whopping six ground ball and helped hold the Jays to a season low 7 goals.
Colin Kirst continues his stellar play in net and has a 9.46 goals-against-average, a Big Ten best .565 save percentage, and eight double-digit save games en route to 122 stops and a 10-1 record. Kirst has been very active running out the ball and leading the transition offense.
Maryland has steamrolled their way to a 9-0 (2-0 B1G) record, which includes five ranked wins (four of them versus top-10 teams). The Terrapins ran then No. 2 Virginia off the field, 23-12, back in mid March. The Terps have won seven of their nine games by five goals or more, with their closest contests coming versus No. 7 Notre Dame (11-9 win) and No. 9 Syracuse (14-10 win). They have started Big Ten play with dominant road wins at Penn State (18-7) and Michigan (20-12) and show no signs of letting up.
Individually, Maryland is led by Logan Wisnauskas (27 goals, 24 assists for 51 points). He is supported by transfers Keegan Khan (16 goals, 16 assists) and Jonathan Donville (22 goals, six assists). Goalkeeper Logan McNaney is fourth nationally with a 9.08 goals-against-average.
The Face-off Battle
It goes without saying that if RU is going to have a chance in this game, they need Jonathan Dugenio to step up big. The Terp’s Luke Weirman is second in the nation with a 66.4% winning percentage on face-offs and fifth with 8.44 ground balls per game.
Dugenio is 121-of-219 (55.3%) on face-offs though he won only 9 of 23 against the Blue Jays last week. The prior week vs. the Buckeyes, versus one of the nation’s best face-off units, Dugenio won 16 of 28 and shut out the talented Justin Inacio 5-0 before he was replaced.
As a Knights fan, the face-off unit can be maddening but Dugenio has shown the ability to bounce back strong from a poor performance in the prior game.
As a team, Maryland leads the nation in scoring margin (8.78), scoring offense (18.44), assists per game (10.44) and points per game (28.89).
Rutgers is in the top-three nationally in three of those categories (points per game, 2nd, scoring offense, 3rd, scoring margin, 3rd) and are the only team in the nation with five players with 20+ goals at this point of the season.
#RUMLax is the only men's team in @NCAALAX with 5 players that have scored 20+ goals this season!— Rutgers Men's LAX (@RUmlax) April 6, 2022
⚔️ Ross Scott (30)
⚔️ Mitch Bartolo (27)
⚔️ Ronan Jacoby (24)
⚔️ Brian Cameron (21)
⚔️ Shane Knobloch (20) pic.twitter.com/ujx1GCWfF9
The 7 p.m. game will be nationally televised by Big Ten Network with Joe Beninati and Mark Dixon on the call. WRSU 88.7 FM will also have a radio broadcast of the game with Dylan McCoy and Doug Willig on the call. Look for our On the Banks recap Sunday evening.