Rutgers men’s lacrosse has put together a phenomenal season this year and they are finally headed to Championship Weekend. Rutgers has made 11 National Tournament appearances since the introduction of the playoff system in 1971 and only two since 2004. Needless to say, this has been a long time coming for the program.
The Scarlet Knights have been a solid team for the last few years now, not always making the tournament or showing dominance within the Big Ten, but performing at a high enough level to show that they were trending in the right direction. In 2021, Rutgers finally had their breakthrough where they truly emerged as an elite team in college lacrosse. Rutgers got some great additions from the transfer portal, they went 8-2 in Big Ten conference play, and made the NCAA tournament where they lost in the second round in overtime to No.1 North Carolina. While the season had a bitter ending, Rutgers knew they were returning a lot of talent for 2022 lacrosse season and they would be poised to make another run.
For the 2022 men’s lacrosse season, Rutgers did not disappoint and put together one of their best seasons in program history. Rutgers enters this game on Saturday with a 15-3 record that included a 7-0 record at home. Additionally, they were excellent during regular season conference play going 4-1, and they played very well out-of-conference as well only losing one game against Princeton. To top it off, all of this on-field success has been followed with seven players being named to the USILA All-American teams as well.
Amongst the seven All-American’s for Rutgers, two players have been especially important to the team’s success this year, Ross Scott (Attack/Jr) and Colin Kirst (Goalie/Sr). Both of these players have led the nation statistically in their respective areas but both have been key leaders as well.
Kirst, a 2x All-American, is currently fourth in the nation for most saves on the season, totaling 221 saves after the Penn game. Additionally, Kirst sits at nearly 55% save percentage on the season. Kirst has shown the ability down the stretch to be an X-factor on the defensive end for his team. In last week’s game, he made 18 saves in order to secure the 11-9 victory over Penn.
As for Ross Scott, he has proven to be equally valuable to the team as well. Scott busted on the scene in this 2022 season as he currently leads the team with 49 goals on the year, the second most in any single season by a Rutgers player, and currently 14th in the nation. Ross showcased this elite goal scoring ability in the first round of the NCAA tournament where he put up 8 goals in the 19-9 victory against Harvard.
Rutgers’ biggest strength this year has typically been its defense and goaltender. Kirst in net and the rest of the defensive unit has provided a huge advantage down the stretch of the season as the defense has held over ten teams to 10 goals or less in a game. Rutgers also leads the nation in successful clears, clearing over 91%.
On the flip side of things though, Rutgers will have to do a better job at the faceoff X and with turnovers. Currently, Rutgers is underneath 50% at the faceoff while their competition on the other side of the bracket is averaging 50% of more. Additionally, Rutgers will have to focus on minimizing their turnovers in the game as they currently lead the nation, averaging 13 turnovers a game with 238 total on the season.