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Men’s Lacrosse NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals Preview: No. 6 Rutgers vs. No. 3 Penn

The Scarlet Knights play the Quakers this Saturday on Long Island at noon with the winner advancing to Championship Weekend.

Rutgers plays Harvard in the opening round of the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament | May 15th, 2022 Yurcak Field Piscataway, NJ
Rutgers Athletics

NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals

No. 6 Rutgers (14-3) vs. No. 3 Penn (11-4)

When: Saturday, May 21 at Noon ET

Where: Hofstra University, Hempstead, Long Island

TV/Streaming: ESPNU

Tickets: Purchase here

The winner advances to the Final Four and Championship Weekend, hallowed ground that has eluded Rutgers to this point in history.

For the second straight season, Rutgers is heading back to the NCAA quarterfinals. The Knights look to build off last Sunday’s dominant win over Harvard, in which Ross Scott netted eight goals in front of 5,212 fans at the friendly confines of Yurcak Field, that unlike the vast emptiness of Shi Stadium, had the feel of a Sunday barbecue filled with pickup games with your friends and family.

About the Quakers

Penn sits at 11-4 overall and compiled a 3-3 record in the Ivy League, by a landslide the nation’s top Division 1 men’s lacrosse conference. The Quakers four losses are against Georgetown, Princeton, Yale, and Brown (all NCAA tournament teams). They’ve since won seven games in a row.

Against common opponents both Penn and Rutgers are 2-1. The Quakers defeated Princeton and Penn State but lost to Michigan while the Knights lost to Princeton but defeated Penn State and Michigan.

All-American senior midfielder Sam Handley makes the Quakers go, leading the team with 70 points (36 goals, 34 assists). Senior attackman Dylan Gergar has scored 48 goals this season to go along with his 16 assists.

Goalie Patrick Berkinshaw allows 10.8 goals per game.

About the Knights

Last weekend against Harvard was the Ross Scott show, as the junior attackman netted a career-hight eight goals to push his season total to 48. With two more goals, Scott will tie Tom Sweeney (1978) for most goals in a single season with 50.

Teammate attackman Mitch Bartolo, the grad transfer from rival Penn, is not too far behind, tallying 41 goals this season. This is the first time in program history that two players have scored 40 or more goals in one season.

Goalkeeper Colin Kirst, who had an outstanding game against Harvard with 17 saves, many of the point-blank variety, is allowing 10.84 goals per game.

Comparing Key Stats

Goals Per Game: 13.07 (Penn) | 14.94 (RU)

Opponents Goals Per Game: 11.07 (Penn) 11.12 (RU)

Caused Turnovers Per Game: 7.8 (Penn) | 8.7 (RU)

Opponents Caused Turnovers Per Game: 8.9 (Penn) 6.5 (RU)

Clear Percentage: 83% (Penn) | 91% (RU)

Face-Offs: 49.6% (Penn) | 48.2% (RU)

The Oregon Trail

Stars Sam Handley, from Portland, and Ross Scott, from West Linn, both hail from Oregon. The Beaver State continues to develop some of the nation’s top college performers, including Ajax Zappitello (Maryland) and Alex Slusher (Princeton).

Keys to Victory for Rutgers

  • Stay with Handley. An obvious one but Coach Brecht is surely focusing on disrupting the Penn midfielder so he isn’t racking up assists on Saturday.
  • Face-Offs: We all know when Rutgers holds their own at the face-off X, snagging 50% or better, they are very hard to beat. Penn is stronger in this area than Rutgers and doesn’t struggle as much as last week’s opponent Harvard, but it is reasonable to expect Rutgers to win half the draws.
  • Win the turnover battle. One of the Quakers’s few weaknesses is that they turn the ball over more than they cause turnovers. The Knights, however, have dominated on the right side of the turnover battle this season, average 2.2 more per game than their opponents. In a one-goal game, turnovers could be the difference.
  • Penn also has struggled with clears. If RU can disrupt Penn’s clears and keep Handley out of his comfort zone, the Knights have a solid shot at victory.

Rutgers has Six Players Named to Inside Lacrosse’s Media All American Team

Ethan Rall (2nd Team)

Brennan Kammish (3rd Team)

Colin Kirst, Jaryd Jean-Felix, Ronan Jacoby, and Ross Scott (Honorable Mention)

I’m not gong to gripe about Rall somehow not being named 1st Team long stick midfielder and Scott as an Honorable Mention. The best remedy will be a victory Saturday and a trip to Championship Weekend.

On this week’s On The Banks Podcast, we welcomed back head coach Brian Brecht and two-time All-American Jaryd Jean-Felix. You can listed to their insights on the win over Harvard, the challenge ahead against and Penn and much more here.