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No. 18 Rutgers men's lacrosse to begin Big Ten play against No. 11 Johns Hopkins

Junior defender Tommy Mendyke and sophomore long-stick midfielder Ryan Splaine will look to make an impact on defense when the Rutgers men's lacrosse team begins Big Ten play against Johns Hopkins.  – Photo by Chloe Berwick

After defeating UMass 10-9 on Long Island, the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team will return to SHI Stadium on Busch campus to face off against Johns Hopkins on Sunday. The Scarlet Knights (6-2, 0-0) will begin Big Ten action against the Blue Jays (5-3, 0-0) and will look to build off their 6-2 finish against non-conference opponents.

No. 18 Rutgers will be considerably tested against its conference foes. Besides Ohio State, every Big Ten team is currently ranked in the top 20 of the country, making it one of the hardest conferences in all of Division I men’s lacrosse.

No. 11 Johns Hopkins is currently on a two-game losing streak. The Knights will look to capitalize on the Blue Jays’ struggles, but it will not be easy, as the former has historically struggled against the latter, trailing 9-36 in the all-time series.

Jacob Angelus and Garrett Degnon are an attacking duo to be reckoned with, combining for 37 goals and 22 assists, which lead Johns Hopkins. Degnon’s 3 goals per game and Angelus 2.38 assists per game are both the third-most in the Big Ten.

The Blue Jays are just as sharp on defense. Beaudan Szuluk has caused 10 turnovers and scooped up 19 ground balls. Scott V. Smith has a team-leading 28 ground balls and nine caused turnovers. Between the pipes, Chayse Ierlan owns a 53.7 save percentage, the third-highest in the Big Ten. Ierlan allows 10.16 goals per game, the 18th-fewest in the nation.

Rutgers’ defense has been a talking point this season, with new faces leading the backline. Junior defenders Tommy Mendyke and Ben McKelvy have both started every game this season. Graduate student defender Harris Hubbard, senior defender Mason Rickens and sophomore defender Conor Udovich have all occupied the third spot on the backline.

Senior attacker Colin Kelly, a transfer from Canisius, has returned from injury and could make an impact in attack. Kelly scored a team-leading 41 goals last season with the Golden Griffins (2-6, 0-2). Kelly has started the last two games and scored 1 goal but will look to add to his tally on Sunday.

In the win against the Minutemen (4-3, 0-0), the Knights had a dominant defensive performance. Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Cardin Stoller recorded a career-high 19 saves and won three accolades this week.

Stoller was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week, Big Ten Specialist of the Week and National Player of the Week by USA Lacrosse Magazine. Sophomore long-stick midfielder Ryan Splaine had six ground balls, 1 goal and two caused turnovers against UMass. He was named to the USILA Team of the Week due to his impressive performance.

The key to victory in the matchup between Rutgers and Johns Hopkins will be defense. Both teams have good goalkeepers statistically, which would likely make it a low-scoring affair and a close game from start to finish.

The contest will begin at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network and 88.7 WRSU-FM.

"We’re gonna lean on our older guys who have the experience, who have been there before," said head coach Brian Brecht on the matchup. "Some of our guys like Cardin (Stoller), like Colin Kurdyla, we’re gonna need them to be at their best when the lights go on and Big Ten conference play starts."

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

To view more of Matthew Mangam's work, follow @matthewmangam on X.

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