The Rutgers Scarlet Knights returned home for the first time in nearly a month, squaring off against a hot Michigan Wolverines squad coming off its greatest win in program history the week prior against Maryland. In a game where Rutgers surged ahead on multiple occasions, only to see Michigan claw back, the Knights ultimately made a couple more key plays to pull out an overtime win. Interestingly, the last time the Knights played at home back on March 11th, they defeated the Princeton Tigers, 14-13 in OT.
Make no bones about it, this was a must win for a Rutgers squad coming off two consecutive conference road losses against Ohio State and Johns Hopkins. This is a different squad though at home, winning 16 consecutive games at SHI Stadium, with the last loss coming in 2021 against the Terrapins.
Tonight’s matchup celebrated Title IX. Also of special note, the players donned maroon hoodies and laces as a show of support for longtime equipment manager Uly Molina, who is battling throat cancer and has recently undergone a series of chemotherapy treatments.
Rooting for our guy Uly Molina! Thanks for the words of support @ESPNU#UlyStrong pic.twitter.com/6vB6kAGA1h— Rutgers Men's LAX (@RUmlax) April 7, 2023
Rutgers received a big jolt as star attacker Brian Cameron made his first start in three weeks. Cameron would finish with a team-high four goals and provided that extra spark on offense this team has been missing the past few weeks. With the opposition focused on shutting down Ross Scott, having a lethal weapon like Cameron helps punish opposing defenses that overcommit.
The game would be a back and forth affair. In the first half, Rutgers jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, Michigan clawed back to swing the advantage 4-3 in favor of the maize and blue, and then the Scarlet Knights would net the final two goals of the 2nd quarter to pull ahead 5-4 at the half. Noah Daniels, Justin Kim, Jack Aimone, Cameron, and Shane Knobloch would all find the back of the net for the Knights.
Welcome back Brian Cameron! First goal for Cameron since Princeton on March 11.— Rutgers Men's LAX (@RUmlax) April 7, 2023
Rutgers 4, Michigan 4#RUMLax pic.twitter.com/LsdadE1RfN
The 3rd quarter saw Rutgers score the first four goals to surge out to a 9-4 lead. It looked as if this one may turn into a laugher but the Wolverines would have plenty of fight left. Michigan would score four consecutive goals of their own, the 7th with :50 left in the quarter and the 8th with just three ticks on the clock. The teams would advance to the fourth quarter with the Knights holding a tenuous 9-8 lead that felt anything but safe.
The 4th quarter saw Rutgers surge ahead once again, taking a 12-9 lead with 9:33 remaining. A costly unreleasable one-minute roughing penalty against the Knights’s Justin Kim at the 7:53 mark gave the Wolverines the ball and they seized the opportunity, scoring two man-up goals. The first was at the 7:44 mark and the second a mere 16 seconds later to trim the Knights’s lead to one, 12-11.
The Wolverine’s Michael Boehm’s 4th goal of the match at 4:11 would knot the score up at 12-12 while Michigan’s defense would hold Rutgers scoreless for the remainder of the 4th quarter.
In overtime, Jonathan DuGenio, who went 12-26 on face-offs for the game, came through in the clutch, winning the face-off with teammate Ethan Rall securing the ground ball, and the Knights would take control of the opening possession. Shane Knobloch would use an excellent pick and surge towards the goal unimpeded, burying a shot past Michigan keeper Shane Carr to give the Knights a crucial 13-12 victory. Knobloch’s third goal of the game sent the fans and players into a frenzy and Rutgers could enjoy being back in the win column.
Rutgers moves to 8-3 and 1-2 in conference while Michigan drops to 5-5 and 1-2. Rutgers’s current RPI sits at 11, which is NCAA tournament worthy but this squad has work to do.
Take a look at the game winning goal by Shane Knobloch!— Rutgers Men's LAX (@RUmlax) April 8, 2023
Final | Rutgers 13, Michigan 12 pic.twitter.com/2nq9wJaOYr
Rutgers great Jules Heningburg was in the booth for ESPNU and noted throughout the broadcast that the Knights were playing hero ball on offense instead of showing patience sharing the ball and forcing the Wolverines to slide so they could better exploit the mismatches for easier shots on goal. This is a match where Rutgers easily could have netted 20 goals with better ball movement.
Excited to have #RUMLax alumn, two-time All-American and two-time First Team-All Big Ten selection Jules Heningburg in the broadcast booth Friday for @ESPNU!— Rutgers Men's LAX (@RUmlax) April 6, 2023
The last time @Julesheningburg played against Michigan, he made a #SCTop10 appearance with this highlight reel goal ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/y19Y0tuiw2
“It felt great, after being out for most of three games to come back and feel healthy and get a great win for our program. We changed our energy around and found the fun in the game again. We had great energy all week and that carried into the game.”
Attackman Brian Cameron
“The defense was locked in and focused, other than a stretch in the last five minutes of the third quarter. But give them credit, they buckled in, they chewed glass, and they bit nails and got a great win at home on a Friday night on national television.”
Head Coach Brian Brecht
- Michigan turned the ball over 15 times, Rutgers just 6. The Rutgers defense set the tone early, playing a much more physical game than we have seen in previous weeks. Brad Apgar had four caused turnovers, Jack Stahanczyk had three, and Noah Daniels had two, as RU caused 11 turnovers on the day. Ethan Rall added a team-high seven ground balls.
- The two most dangerous scorers on the field were in held in check with Rutgers’s Ross Scott only scoring once and Michigan’s Josh Zawada being shut out by stellar defenseman Bobby Russo.
- Kyle Mullin had a good rebound game following a dismal performance against Hopkins, making 11 saves.
Senior day, hosting No. 5 Maryland next Sunday night during the final regular season home game of the season. That game will be at 7 p.m. on BTN. RU will honor last season’s Final Four squad. The last time RU lost at home was to Maryland back in 2021. We fans all circle this game on the calendar. Is this the year the Knights can finally overtake the Terrapins?