A hat trick capped off by a late game-winner from senior attacker Ronan Jacoby was enough to get the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team over the edge in a 13-12 win over Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Saturday afternoon.
The win, combined with the Maryland and Johns Hopkins’ wins on Saturday, earned the program a top-two seed and a first-round bye into next month’s Big Ten Tournament.
The No. 4 Scarlet Knights (11-2, 3-1) opened up an early lead, responding to the first Wolverine (7-6, 0-4) goal by scoring four straight to end the first quarter to lead 4-1. Two of those 4 goals came from the stick of senior attacker Brian Cameron.
Cameron’s second goal was a buzzer-beater, finding the net with just 1.3 seconds to spare.
Rutgers kept the attack going into the second quarter, outscoring the Wolverines 4-2 in the period to head to the locker room up 8-3.
Five goals would be the largest lead that the Knights would have in the game, and they found themselves up 11-6 with just one quarter left to play.
Despite the Rutgers lead, Michigan had one run left in them, rattling off 5 unanswered goals in the first 6 minutes of the fourth quarter to tie the game with 9:26 left.
With the score knotted up, sophomore midfielder Shane Knobloch scored with 8:50 remaining to give the Knights the lead. Jake Bonomi answered for the Wolverines 2 minutes later, setting up a close finish.
Jacoby had the final say, giving Rutgers the lead with just 3:44 to play on an unassisted goal. The Knights’ defense held up on the final possession to secure the win.
Despite the win, Rutgers struggled in some statistical categories.
The program was outshot by a 51-38 margin, was out-collected in the ground ball battle by a 40-21 margin and won just 9 of 30 faceoffs in the game.
One defensive bright spot was senior goalkeeper Colin Kirst, who put up a 15 save performance and stopped over half of the shots he faced.
In addition to the first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament, the Knights also got a bump in the national rankings, going from No. 7 to No. 4 in the country this week. This puts them behind only Maryland in the conference, which remained the top-ranked team in the country.
With a 3-1 conference record in hand, Rutgers will close out the regular season with a Senior Day matchup with Penn State. The Nittany Lions (3-9, 1-3) have struggled recently, losing to the Blue Jays (6-7, 2-2) 13-10 last weekend as part of a 1-6 stretch in the schedule.
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