After leading by as many as three goals in the fourth quarter, the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team hung on to beat No. 14 Ohio State 10-9 on Saturday at SHI Stadium to earn its fourth-ranked win of the season for the first time since 2018.
The Scarlet Knights (5-2, 1-1) got off to a fast start in the first quarter, scoring 3 unanswered goals to take a 3-1 lead over the Buckeyes (3-4, 3-3). Both teams traded blows in the second quarter, with Rutgers heading into the halftime break up 6-3 having outshot Ohio State by a 22-19 margin.
The Buckeyes slowly cut into the Knights’ lead in the third, with Griffin Hughes and Jack Myers finding the back of the net. Fifth-year senior attacker Kieran Mullins put Rutgers back up 3 at the start of the fourth quarter, overtaking former Knight Jules Heningburg as the second-highest point scorer in program history.
Ohio State answered back with three straight goals, courtesy of Tre Leclaire, Myers and Hughes. With a little less than 5 minutes left in regulation, the game was tied.
But Rutgers was able to retake the lead, as graduate student attacker Adam Charalambides scored 2 goals in 64 seconds to go back up 10-8. Myers pulled one back for the Buckeyes with 38 seconds to play, but the Knights were able to get a stop on the final possession to hang on for the win.
“I’m proud of our guys,” said Rutgers head lacrosse coach Brian Brecht. “We want to get better each week, and part of getting better is winning the special teams and winning the one-goal game.”
Defensively, the Knights were able to hold Ohio State to just 9 goals, with Leclaire only finding the back of the net once the entire game. Graduate student goalkeeper Colin Kirst had 15 saves on 24 shots on goal.
“I thought our (defense) played great,” Colin Kirst said. “I thought (senior defender) Jaryd (Jean-Felix) had an unbelievable game, (junior defender) Bobby (Russo) as well and (fifth-year senior defender) Garrett (Bullett) down below.”
Rutgers didn’t control every aspect of the game. In the faceoff matchup, the Knights won just 5 of 22 draws. Four of those 5 wins came from sophomore faceoff specialist Jonathan Dugenio. Junior long-stick midfielder Ethan Rall went 1 of 4 from the X, and junior faceoff specialist Moriah Yousefi went 0 of 7.
“(Faceoffs) didn’t go well for us,” Brecht said. “They have the faceoff specialist of the year, an All American (in Justin Inacio) ... (We had) another great team win because they had a lot more possession time.”
Two other Rutgers players also reached milestones in this game: Charalambides’ 3-goal performance allowed him to surpass Ryan O’Shea as the fifth-highest goalscorer in program history. Graduate student attacker Connor Kirst also scored his 100th career goal, finding the back of the net twice in the win.
With this win, the Knights completed the season sweep of the Buckeyes, the first time the team has beaten a ranked opponent twice in one year since beating Johns Hopkins twice in 2016. Rutgers also maintains its grip on second place in the Big Ten, which would give it a first-round bye to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament. Next Saturday, they’ll head to State College for a rematch with No. 19 Penn State.
“We’ve got to come ready to play, we’ve got to prepare and we’ve got to take care of ourselves,” Brecht said. “There (are) no guarantees in Big Ten lacrosse.”