The Rutgers men’s lacrosse team has a chance to bounce back from its loss to Maryland, as it faces Ohio State in a 5 p.m. rematch this Saturday at SHI Stadium.
The Scarlet Knights (4-2, 0-1) defeated the Buckeyes (3-3, 3-3) by a score of 22-12 in their last meeting in Columbus, Ohio. Rutgers’ offense came to life in that game, finishing with its highest goal output since 2010 and highest goal output since joining the Big Ten. Though, the team they beat in February has undergone some changes in the last four weeks.
Since that meeting, Ohio State has won 2 of its last 3 games — with both wins coming against Michigan. In the Buckeyes' 14-6 win over the Wolverines (1-5, 1-5), the offense was led by Tre Leclaire and Jack Myers, who combined for 7 goals in the game. Leclaire and Myers are the two leading goal scorers this season, combining for nearly half of Ohio State’s scoring output this season.
Another difference between the Buckeyes team that lost to the Knights in February and the team Rutgers will be facing on Saturday is the goalkeeping situation.
Ohio State's Skylar Wahlund, who started the last time these two teams matched up, has struggled between the pipes. So far in the season, he has accumilated a 14.85 goals against average and saved just 0.368 percent of his shots. His replacement, Alec Van de Bovenkamp, has a 2-1 record with a 10.95 goal against average and a 0.485 save percentage.
Van de Bovenkamp and the Buckeyes’ defense will look to try and contain the Knights' offense that is tied for seventh-most productive in the country, averaging 15.17 goals per game. Rutgers boasts three Tewaaraton Award Watch List players in graduate student attacker Adam Charalambides, fifth-year senior attacker Kieran Mullins and graduate student midfielder Connor Kirst.
Both offenses are similarly efficient at converting their opportunities into scores. The Knights convert on 35 percent of their shots, while Ohio State converts 33 percent of the time.
One critical matchup to watch will be the faceoff battle. Sophomore faceoff specialist Jonathan Dugenio is sporting a 0.422 faceoff win percentage on the season, coming off a 10-of-25 effort in Sunday's loss to the Terrapins (6-0, 6-0). The Buckeyes have won a much higher percentage of their draws this year, with Justin Inacio winning 0.557 percent of faceoffs this year.
Despite getting swept by Maryland, Rutgers remains unbeaten against the rest of the Big Ten so far, with its other wins coming over Johns Hopkins and Michigan. With three games after the rematch with Ohio State left before the Big Ten Tournament, the Knights find themselves in second place in the Big Ten with a one-game lead over the Buckeyes.
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