On an absolutely frigid Saturday afternoon at SHI Stadium, the No. 9 ranked Scarlet Knights faced off against the Red Foxes. Rutgers knows that to earn a third consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, they must hold serve against non-conference opponents prior to the rugged B1G slate that begins in late March. Marist entered the match as the preseason favorites in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, which like the Big Ten, has an automatic qualifier bid to the 2023 NCAA tournament.
Prior to this match, Rutgers played three scrimmages, the most in coach Brian Brecht’s time on the banks. The level of preparedness was apparent in the opening quarter. Senior Brian Cameron kicked off the scoring three minutes in with an unassisted goal. Sophomore standout Dante Kulas would put the Knights up 2-0 11 seconds later on a nice feed from senior midfielder Noah Daniels, a transfer from Mt. Saint Marys. Junior Nick Teresky would add the Knight’s 3rd goal at the 10:59 mark and All-American Shane Knobloch would net the 4th a minute later.
Brian Cameron scores our first goal of the 2023 season‼️— Rutgers Men's LAX (@RUmlax) February 4, 2023
RU takes a 1-0 to start the game. pic.twitter.com/VOiZ6A5Qt0
The Red Foxes would then settle down on defense and after a scoreless seven and half minutes of play, James Lyons and JoJo PIrrecha notched goals to cut Rutgers’s lead to 4-2 heading into the second quarter of play.
Cameron once again kicked off the scoring with a goal at the 12:33 mark and then Rutgers went on a tear, starting with an end to end goal by Senior defenseman Bobby Russo. Junior All-American attacker Ross Scott would add two goals in the quarter, Kulas would add three more, and rising midfield star Jack Aimone would add the final one of the period with a little over three minutes left. Rutgers outscored Marist 8-0 in the quarter and headed to the locker room firmly in command, leading 12-2.
The pride of Bridgewater, N.J. and our captain, Bobby Russo, takes it all the way downfield for his first goal of the afternoon‼️— Rutgers Men's LAX (@RUmlax) February 4, 2023
6-2, RU #RUMLax pic.twitter.com/HfyT5Kzs9e
The Knights would pad their lead, 14-2, on goals by Aimone and Cameron. Sandwiched between four goals from the Red Foxes, were tallies by Scott, Justin Kim (off an assist from twin brother Andrew Kim), Eric Cervetti, and Kulas as the teams would head to the final frame with the Knights holding an 18-6 lead.
That twin connection!— Rutgers Men's LAX (@RUmlax) February 4, 2023
Kim ➡️ Kim for the #RUMLax goal pic.twitter.com/7wfwd6tZqN
The final frame was relatively quiet scoring-wise, with Rutgers making wholesale changes to the lineup. Aimone would add his third goal, followed by two goals by the Red Foxes. Rutgers would close out the scoring on a goal by Brady Kurdyla off an assist from Shane Murphy to put the Knights up 20-8. The two freshman attackers are part of a large incoming class this season that look to take the baton and sustain the Knights’s high level of play.
Brady Kurdyla scores his first goal of his collegiate career‼️#RUMLax pic.twitter.com/78YGwVBzZ7— Rutgers Men's LAX (@RUmlax) February 4, 2023
Total Shots | Marist 31 RU 66
Ground Balls | Marist 26 RU 44
Face Offs | Marist 9 RU 23
Head Coach Brian Brecht notches his 150th career victory, including 85 at RU. The Knights have now won 19 of their last 21 season openers.
Goalie Kyle Mullin, the Harvard transfer, whom Rutgers defeated in the tournament last season, looked very comfortable in net. He finished with 10 saves and 7 goals against. Senior transfer Anthony Palma of Stony Brook would finish the game, making 2 saves while giving up one goal.
Face-off specialist Jonathan Dugenio won 16 of 24, which is a good start for the up-and-down Dugenio. Yale transfer Joe Neuman won all four of his chances and sophomore Luke Romanek won 2 of 3. I would expect coach Brecht to not hesitate going with the hot hand this season to give the Knights as many opportunities with the ball as possible.
Rutgers continues to not miss a beat on offense, regardless of who graduates. Sophomore Dante Kulas tallied a career best 8 points with 5 goals and 3 assists. Scott, Cameron, and Aimone each notched hat tricks. The Knights were quick in transition, strong on clears, and passed the ball crisply.
Rutgers faces a very talented Stony Brook Seawolves squad at 1pm on Saturday, Feb. 11th at Shi Stadium. The game will stream on B1G+.