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No. 6 Rutgers men's lacrosse opens up Big Ten play against No. 8 Ohio State

Senior defender Bobby Russo and the Rutgers men's lacrosse team look to get off to the best 10-game start since 1956. – Photo by Mike Lawerence /

Another top 10 matchup awaits the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team, as the program gets set to open up Big Ten play on Sunday at home against Ohio State.

The No. 6 Scarlet Knights (8-1, 0-0) will kick off their conference slate after earning their best non-conference record since 2017. Rutgers is 2–1 in ranked matchups this year, suffering its only defeat to its last top 10 opponent, Princeton.

Goals have been coming from all over the attacking line. The scoring has been led by junior attacker Ross Scott, who has 26 goals and 16 assists on the season. Scott has heated up lately, with 12 of his 42 points coming in the last two games. Senior attacker Mitch Bartolo is right behind him, scoring 21 goals through nine games of play. 

“Our group moved the ball really well last weekend at Hofstra, so we'll be looking to continue that heading into the Ohio State game," senior attacker Brian Cameron said. “We have a culture of passing, no one really cares about their stats, it's just about helping the team.”

Defensively, the Knights are among the best in the nation in several categories. They lead Division I with 13.44 turnovers per game and are second in clearing percentage, successfully clearing the ball 91.6 percent of the time. Senior goalkeeper Colin Kirst is averaging a career-best 10.07 goals against average, saving 56 percent of shots faced.

The No. 8 Buckeyes (6-2, 0-0) head to Piscataway on a short week, having defeated Dartmouth 12-6 in Columbus on Tuesday night. Like Rutgers, they have balanced attack with several prolific goalscorers: Colby Smith is their leading scorer with 23 goals in eight games. Jack Myers is their points leader with 21 goals and 24 assists — good for seventh in the nation in points. 

Jackson Reid has heated up, putting up 16 of his 30 points in the last 3 games. Ohio State averages 15.12 goals per game, sitting among the top 10 teams in the country at putting the ball in the net.

The Buckeyes made a change in goal on Tuesday, with backup goalkeeper Skylar Wahlund getting the start over usual starter Caton Johnson. Wahlund made 12 saves and allowed only 6 goals in the game. Johnson has started seven of Ohio State’s eight games this season, allowing 10.76 goals against average while saving 47.2 percent of shots faced.

Man-up opportunities have been a major success for the Buckeyes, as they lead the nation in man-up scoring with 19 goals in 27 opportunities. They’re also a potent threat from the faceoff spot: Starter Justin Inacio is currently fifth in the country in win percentage, winning 64.8 percent of his draws.

A win would do more than just open up Big Ten play on a high note. It would improve the Knights to 9-1 on the season, marking the program’s best ten-game start since 1956.

“Ohio State is a great team,” senior defender Bobby Russo said. “We'll be locked in and excited to play in front of our home crowd and wanting to start Big Ten play on the right foot.” 

For more updates on the Rutgers men's lacrosse team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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