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Freshmen focus: Colin Kurdyla, Cardin Stoller have excelled with Rutgers men's lacrosse

Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Cardin Stoller and freshman midfielder Colin Kurdyla had excellent first seasons on the Banks and have bright futures with the Rutgers men's lacrosse team. – Photo by Elliot Dong

The Rutgers men's lacrosse team's 2024 roster features many transfers and seniors, but two freshmen have taken much of the headlines this season. Freshman midfielder Colin Kurdyla and redshirt freshman goalkeeper Cardin Stoller have made great strides for the Scarlet Knights and have immense potential to achieve tremendous success on the Banks.

Colin Kurdyla

Kurdyla came to Rutgers after an impressive high school career at Bridgewater-Raritan High School, where he was a two-time All-American, New Jersey North Player of the Year and scored 144 goals in three seasons.

Kurdyla had his breakout game on February 17 against Army, when he scored a hat trick to earn a spot in the starting lineup the following game. Kurdyla credits his teammates, graduate student attacker Ross Scott and senior midfielder Shane Knobloch, for helping him start off strong quickly.

"Being in my corner all season long, telling me, hey keep your head up, keep going, you’re gonna get your first goal, you're gonna do all these great things and just ultimately guiding me and pure mentoring me to be the player who I am ... They've been great mentors to me … They've really shown me what it's been like to be a Rutgers student-athlete and also how to be a good teammate and be a Rutgers lacrosse player here. They've been nothing but awesome to me," Kurdyla said.

Kurdyla was one of the most consistent Knights this season, scoring in 9 of his 11 starts. He has tallied 20 goals on the year and was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice.

"It's cool to see, but my main focus is trying to get out there every week, get a win for our team, just play to the best of my abilities," Kurdyla said regarding the accolades.

Kurdyla's goals for the future follow his aforementioned mindset.

"I'm just focused on helping this team win. If my personal awards come with that then so be it, but I just want to see this team win and have success," he said.

Cardin Stoller

Unlike Kurdyla, Stoller was on Rutgers' roster last season. Stoller did not play, though, and ultimately redshirted. Despite not seeing any game action, Stoller learned a lot from former goalkeepers Kyle Mullin and Anthony Palma.

"Having two older guys with a lot of games of experience coming in to kinda teach me what it's like to play on game day definitely helped me a lot, and I definitely credit a lot of my success this year to those two guys," Stoller said.

Stoller debuted as a Knight in this year's season-opener against Lehigh. He had a rocky start to the season but had his first standout game against Loyola, recording 15 saves en route to the 13-5 win.

"Having those first three games that were kind of rough, I definitely knew that I needed to kinda step it up and from Loyola forward (I) was definitely able to do so," Stoller said. "That just comes with preparation, talking with my coaches and kinda knowing what we need to hammer out for success. Taking that step back definitely helped a lot for the last couple of weeks."

From there, Stoller was instrumental in Rutgers' 10-9 win over UMass, playing lights out and making a career-high 19 saves. He also played an essential role in the Knights' only Big Ten win this season against Michigan with another 19-save performance.

Due to his impressive outings, Stoller has accumulated many accolades. He was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week four times, Big Ten Specialist of the Week twice, USILA Team of the Week once and National Player of the Week by USA Lacrosse Magazine once. Stoller capped it all off by being named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, making him the third Rutgers player to win the honor.

"I'm never really playing for accolades. I'm playing for wins, and I think it's one of those things where if I play my games stuff like that comes with it," he said.

Stoller looks up to former Knights goalkeeper Colin Kirst, who currently plays for the Boston Cannons in the Premier Lacrosse League and was named an All-Star in 2023.

"We've gotten to know each other over the last couple of years, and just kind of seeing how he holds himself in the cage and his out of the cage play, just how mature he is in there, those are things I like to look at," Stoller said.

Stoller wants to use his experience to mentor freshman goalkeeper Marco Wimmershoff and future goalkeepers.

With more than three years of eligibility remaining, Stoller has plenty of time to further cement his name in Rutgers history.

"Just being a part of this team and playing on game day are things that I never take for granted," Stoller said. "This whole journey's been a blast and I'm excited for the rest of this season and the seasons to come forward."

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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