The two best teams in the Big Ten will battle this Sunday as the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team looks to knock off top-ranked Maryland in College Park, Maryland. A win would be the first over the No. 1 Terrapins (9-0, 2-0) since 1980.
The No. 3 Scarlet Knights (10-1, 2-0) are coming off their best 11-game start in program history, which includes top 10 wins against Princeton and Ohio State. They are coming into this matchup after recently defeating Johns Hopkins 12-7 last Sunday.
“All year long, one of our main goals has been to just take it one day at a time, not look ahead to any opponent,” said senior goalkeeper Colin Kirst. “Leading into Big Ten play, we've been taking it one day at a time, one practice at a time, and having that all come together on game day.”
Maryland is the highest-ranked opponent Rutgers has faced all season, entering with the lead in the Big Ten standings and an undefeated 9-0 record.
The Knights have never defeated a top-ranked opponent, with their most recent chance ending with a loss to North Carolina in the Elite Eight of last year’s NCAA Tournament.
This matchup boasts two of the most high-powered offenses in college lacrosse, as the Terrapins lead the nation averaging 18.44 goals per game (GPG). Rutgers is third at 16.27 GPG.
“In the locker room, everyone is really focused and ready to dive into the game plan,” said senior midfielder Zackary Franckowiak. “For the years I've been here and different cultures I've been a part of, this is one of the tightest groups we've had. Our transfers have fit in well, and our younger players have been stepping up.”
Given the attacking talent on both sides of the ball, one area to watch is the goalkeeping matchup.
Kirst is posting career-high numbers in his second season as Rutgers’ starter, allowing just 9.45 GPG and a save percentage of .565, which leads the Big Ten.
Meanwhile, Maryland starter Logan McNaney has a 9.08 goals against average, good for fourth in the country.
A win against the Terrapins would also give the Knights sole possession of the top seed in the Big Ten, with two conference games remaining against Michigan and Penn State. It would also get the program its 11th win of the year, putting the Knights in a prime position to return to the NCAA Tournament next month.
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