Rutgers men’s lacrosse squared off against the Utah Utes, in the first ever meeting between the programs, on a cold, blustery, overcast afternoon at SHI stadium.
The Utes, a member of the Pac 12 for most sports, play in the A-Sun conference for lacrosse and are the consensus preseason favorites to earn an automatic qualifier to the 17-member NCAA tournament. The conference is truly national, with far flung members such as Jacksonville in the south, Detroit Mercy in the upper midwest, Air Force in the rockies, and of course, Utah out west. Fans may fondly recall the big time skier and former Rutgers middie, Casey Rose, a graduate recruited out of Corner Canyon High School by coach Brecht, in what is now a powerhouse western lacrosse program.
Big Ten color analyst Rick Mercurio aptly pointed out at the start of the game that these two teams are mirror images of each other on offense, with a high volume of shots, and moving very quickly in transition. Neither team likes to sit on the ball and play keep away. It was no surprise then that the two teams would combine for 32 goals, including 13 in the fourth quarter alone.
The Utes jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Jack Aimone found the back of the net for his 13th goal of the season at the 5:01 mark. The Utes would pull ahead, 3-1, before Ross Scott scored consecutive goals, the first at the 3:04 mark and the second a little over a minute later. The teams would head to the 2nd quarter knotted at 3 after a frantic first 15 minutes.
Utah’s Ryan Stines would tally his 2nd goal of the match to put the Utes back up, 4-3. The Knights’s Dante Kulas would tie things back up, 4-4, at the 11:13 mark and Brian Cameron would notch his 14th goal of the season at the 8:08 mark to give Rutgers their first lead of the match, 5-4. Each squad would add two more goals and the Knights would enter halftime in another tight battle, leading, 7-6.
As we’ve seen in the prior two games against Loyola and St. John’s, Rutgers has come out of the locker room and dominated the third frame. Saturday was no different as Rutgers clamped down on defense and outscored the Utes, 6-0, jumping out to a comfortable 13-6 lead.
The Knights shared the ball efficiently in the third as five different players scored: Cameron notched two goals and David Sprock, Nick Teresky, Shane Knobloch, and Eric Civetti all tallied one.
Rutgers quickly jumped out 14-6 in the first minute on another goal by rising star attacker Kulas and the game had all the makings of a blowout.
Utah would not go quietly however as they picked themselves up off the turf and scored the next three goals, the first two by 2022 ASUN offensive player of the year, Tyler Bradbury.
Cameron would stem the western tide at the 9:47 mark and Kulas added another goal of his own to grow the Knights’s lead out to 16-9, halfway through the final frame.
The Utes would counter with two more goals of their own to pull within five, 16-11, with a little over four minutes left. Six seconds later, Joe Neuman would win the face off and score. Seven seconds later, Neuman would win the subsequent faceoff and dish to Civetti to put Rutgers back up, 18-11. The rapid-fire scoring continued as the Utes scored 18 seconds later. That’s four goals combined in 30 seconds and a prime example why lacrosse is considered the fastest game on two feet.
Utah would add goals at the 2:26 and 2:02 mark before the teams would somehow manage to go scoreless for the final two minutes. Final score: Rutgers 18, Utah 14. With the Win, the Knights improve to 5-1 and the Utes drop to 1-4.
- This was a wild game with Utah turning over the ball 21 times and Rutgers 18.
- Rutgers was 19-27 on clears including an abysmal 3-8 in the 4th quarter. Coach Brecht and staff will surely be addressing this for the upcoming game against Princeton, who will look to out-muscle the Knights.
- After being dominated in the 1st quarter on faceoffs by the Utes, 6-1, Rutgers settled in and wound up winning 17 of the 36.
- 13. That’s how many goals the teams combined for in a wild 4th quarter with the Utes tallying 8 and the Knights 5.
(Courtesy Rutgers Athletics)
- Joe Neuman was 4-8 on faceoffs and earned his first career points on a goal and assist. Going forward, if Neuman can step in when DuGenio (15-28) is struggling, the Knights should be able to hang with the best of the Big Ten when conference play begins.
- Senior attacker Eric Civetti had his first career multi-goal game
- Four more goals for star attacker Dante Kulas, who now has 16 on the season
- Faceoff specialist Jonathan DuGenio scooped a career-high 8 ground balls
- Brian Cameron tied his career high with 4 goals
- Star attacker Ross Scott has at least six points in three of his last four games
The dreaded No. 6 Tigers of Princeton. Rutgers looks to pay the Tigers back after last year’s loss in Princeton. Saturday, March 11 at 1 p.m. ET.