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No. 6 Rutgers on five game winning streak as B1G gauntlet begins



Photo credit Rutgers Athletics

No. 6 Rutgers men’s lacrosse won its fifth straight game on Saturday in defeating RV UMass on the road by the final score of 11-5. After trailing 3-2 to start the game, a 5-0 second period gave RU control that they never surrendered.

The offensive attack was balanced as usual as Dante Kulas, Ross Scott, David Sprock and Eric Civetti each scored twice. Rutgers held a commanding 53-32 shot advantage as well as a 31-17 edge with shots on goal. The defense forced 16 turnovers and were 18 of 19 in clear attempts.

Ever since a 14-13 loss at Army in February, Rutgers has hit its stride this season. The five game winning streak has included two wins over ranked foes. That includes a dominant 10-6 victory over a top ten foe Loyola (MD) and a thrilling 14-13 overtime win over rival Princeton.

Rutgers is ninth nationally in scoring offense with a 14.62 goals per game average. The Scarlet Knights are seventh nationally in scoring defense in allowing just 9.12 goals per game. RU is one of just three teams in the top ten in both categories. No. 14 North Carolina and No. 1 Notre Dame are the others.

One area that’s been an issue in recent seasons has been a strength in non-conference play. RU is 16th nationally with a .565 face-off winning percentage.

A year removed from leading the country in fewest turnovers per game, Rutgers is currently second in averaging just 12.5 per contest.

The offense has been balanced all season as Kulas and Scott are tied for the team lead with 22 goals apiece. Brian Cameron, who missed the UMass game, is right behind them with 20 goals. All three players have between 7-9 assists with Kulas leading the team with 30 points. Scott and Cameron each have 29 points. Shane Knobloch leads RU with 12 assists and is fourth with 21 points. Jack Aimone is fourth on the team with 15 goals and fifth with 18 points.

Defensively, Ethan Rall, Bobby Russo and Brad Apgar share the team lead with 10 caused turnovers apiece. In goal, Kyle Mullin is allowing just 9.24 goals per game along with a .558 save percentage. RU has held three opponents to six goals or less this season, the most since 2017.

With face-offs, Jonathan Dugenio has a .571 winning percentage on 119 attempts. Joe Neuman has a .576 winning percentage on 85 attempts.

The real test now begins for Rutgers (7-1) with Big Ten play set to start this weekend. The Scarlet Knights will travel to No. 19 Ohio State (4-3) on Sunday, March 26 at 7:00 p.m. ET. The league contest will air live on the Big Ten Network.

The Big Ten is once again loaded with five out of six teams ranked nationally. Four are ranked in the top ten with No. 2 Maryland, No. 6 Rutgers, No. 8 Johns Hopkins, and No. 9/10 Penn State. The only team not ranked, Michigan, is receiving votes.

All five Big Ten contests will be aired nationally. The showdown with the Terps will be in Piscataway on Senior Day on Sunday night, April 16.

After earning the program’s first ever trip to the Final Four last season, Rutgers enters Big Ten play at a high level. While the Scarlet Knights have a strong returning core, they’ve also established new stars in Kulas and Aimone. In addition, RU has developed stability with Harvard transfer Kyle Mullin in goal. Through it all, they’ve remained balanced offensively and defensively.

Rutgers performed very well in non-conference play. That being said, the goals are bigger for this program and winning a Big Ten title is one they covet. Playing well in such a competitive league is also key in earning a third consecutive NCAA Tournament bid. Head coach Brian Brecht has his team in position to make this spring another special season for the Scarlet Knights. Performing well on the road Sunday in Columbus is another step needed in keeping things moving forward.

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  1. FlaRef

    March 20, 2023 at 11:35 pm

    RU baseball, the red-headed step-child in sports reporting?

    • Aaron Breitman

      March 21, 2023 at 1:28 am

      WOW. Man if I didn’t like you for being a loyal reader, I’d give you a hard time. All good I was just behind on a few things but was on my list. I covered the no-hitter last weekend and had Steve Owens on for a season preview podcast. Today I caught up with multiple sports and baseball was open in my drafts most of the afternoon. Just posted an update on the road trip here. Thanks for caring and reading!

  2. Biochemist01

    March 24, 2023 at 5:48 pm

    Really good win on the road at UMass. The UMass goalie had the game of his life.

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