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2018 Men’s Lacrosse Year in Review: #22 Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Despite early potential, the Scarlet Knights failed to make the NCAA Tournament once again.

Sydney Schwartz/Rutgers Athletics

With the 2018 college lacrosse season complete, it’s time to start looking back at how all 71 teams did during the season, as well as what to expect from each squad for 2019. These are not end of season rankings, as some people might think.

We’ve already begun looking back to 2018 with some team recaps thus far and continued our series this week with Ohio State, Detroit Mercy, Quinnipiac, and Navy.

So with that, let’s continue the recaps!

#22 Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Conference: Big Ten
2018 Record: 9-6 (2-3 in Big Ten play)
Postseason: Lost to Maryland in Big Ten semifinals
Head coach: Brian Brecht (7th Year)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Jules Heningburg (37)
Assists: Jules Heningburg (35)
Points: Jules Heningburg (72)
Faceoffs: Alex Schoen (56-of-116; 48.3%)
Ground balls: Joe Francisco (42)
Caused turnovers: Garrett Michaeli (14)
Goals against average: Max Edelmann (9.52 GAA)
Save percentage: Max Edelmann (50.5%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: A Jules Heningburg (37 Gs, 35 As, 29 GBs), D Michael Rexrode (25 GBs, 10 CTs), M Christian Mazzone (29 Gs, 9 As, 40 GBs, 8 CTs), D Alex Bronzo (19 GBs, 8 CTs), SSDM Christian Scarpello (29 GBs, 7 CTs, 1 G, 2 As), SSDM Chad Toliver (6 GBs, 3 CTs, 2 Gs), FOGO Joe Francisco (47.7% faceoff draws, 42 GBs), FOGO Alex Schoen (48.3% faceoff draws, 23 GBs), SSDM Austin Divitcos (7 GBs, 5 CTs, 2 Gs, 3 As), A Connor Vercruysse (9 Gs, 1 A), D Steve Hillenbrand (1 GB, 1 CT), M Christian Trasolini (5 Gs)
Senior scoring departing: 135 of 270 points (50%)
Senior starts lost: 68 of 150 (45.3%)

Season Summary

Rutgers was a popular dark horse pick to win it all before the start of the season. But shortly before the regular season kicked off, the Scarlet Knights found out they would be without Adam Charalambides for a second straight season. A unit of him, senior Heningburg, and sophomore Kieran Mullins was going to be a top five attack trio in the country.

But life continued for Rutgers as the season began with two wins over Robert Morris and St. John’s. They had a hiccup against then 12th ranked Army West Point where they lost 9-7. Army went downhill shortly after. After two more wins over Fairfield and Brown, the Scarlet Knights suffered a tough overtime loss on the road against Princeton. Already, it appeared Rutgers would be a bubble team to make the NCAA Tournament. But their case strengthened after big wins over Lehigh, Syracuse, and Delaware.

Then came Big Ten play, which is always a tough road for any team. For Rutgers especially, they needed to have at least one top-tier win to strengthen their tournament case. But similar to the past two years, they came short in those games. In the conference opener at home to Johns Hopkins, the Scarlet Knights led by three on multiple occasions and tied the game at 12 before Kyle Marr scored a game-winner with 14 seconds left in regulation. That was also the team’s lone loss at home. After a Michigan victory, Rutgers had another big opportunity at their doorstep on the road against top-ranked Maryland. It was another dogfight, but the Terps held off multiple Scarlet Knight opportunities for another win over the Big Ten representative from New Jersey.

A win over Penn State helped a little, but a loss in the regular season finale to Ohio State didn’t help their chances of making it to the NCAA Tournament. They had one more chance in the Big Ten semifinals against Maryland. Throughout the second half, Rutgers appeared to be in striking distance of the Terps, but Maryland had enough answers to eventually end Rutgers’ season.

Heningburg had a career-best season in his final year in Piscataway with 72 points. Mullins finished in second with 48 points and freshman Tommy Coyne had 24 points as the third attackman. Senior Connor Vercruysse also recorded 10 points as the fourth attackman. The top midfield unit consisted of senior Christian Mazzone, redshirt-junior Casey Rose, and freshman Ryan Gallagher. Mazzone and Rose each recorded at least 20 points, with Gallagher finishing with 19 points, 13 of them assists. Redshirt-senior Christian Trasolini, sophomore Owen Mead, and plenty others also garnered reps.

The defense had its own rock in senior Michael Rexrode, who was the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year. He was joined by fellow senior Alex Bronzo and redshirt-freshman Garrett Bullett. Senior Steve Hillenbrand played in all 15 games as a member of the man-down unit. Juniors Garrett Michaeli and Kyle Pless each had at least 25 ground balls and 10 caused turnovers as the two LSMs, and the short sticks had plenty of faces with seniors Christian Scarpello, Chad Toliver, and Austin Divitcos, along with junior Mark Christiano, who were also capable of playing offense. Seniors Joe Francisco and Alex Schoen split the majority of the faceoffs, while Max Edelmann played every minute of the season in goal.

Looking Ahead

The Scarlet Knights lose 50% of their scoring and a little over 45% of their scoring. Add to that the uncertainty of Charalambides and there’s mixed feelings over how the team might be in 2019. Mullins will probably have to be the team’s top attackman with or without Charalambides, but he will have Coyne with him. Sophomore Mark Schachte might get more playing time as well. Rose and Gallagher return at midfield, as well as Owen Mead.

But what will hurt Rutgers the most is on defense. Two of their three starting defensemen have graduated. Look for sophomore Jake Nordhausen to get an increased role on defense next year. Along with that, three of their four top SSDMs and both FOGOs. At the faceoff X, sophomore Sam Oltmans went 1-of-5 last season and Pless went 4-of-20 as an LSM. The Scarlet Knights also have sophomore Palmer Lloyd and freshman Eddie Perlstein at their disposal. Luckily, Edelmann was granted a fifth year of eligibility which gives the Scarlet Knights some much-needed stability in net.

Brian Brecht also has two new assistant coaches in former Air Force Falcons head coach Eric Seremet as his offensive coordinator and former Towson Tigers defensive coordinator Dan Cocchi as his new DC. That should help groom current and future Scarlet Knights for years to come.

Here’s who the Scarlet Knights will be adding to their roster for next year.*

Rutgers’ Unofficial Class of 2018

Player Position High School
Player Position High School
Eric Civetti Midfield Franklin (MA)
Matt Dancsecs Midfield Roxbury (NJ)
Cole Daninger Midfield O'Dea (WA)
Andrew Martinez Midfield Trinity-Pawling (NY)
Michael Ott Midfield/FO Central Bucks East (PA)
Joe Peterson Midfield Monte Vedra (CA)
Ben Pounds Goalie Ridgewood (NJ)
Ethan Rall Defense/LSM Islip (NY)
Bobby Russo Defense Bridgewater-Raritan (NJ)
David Sprock Midfield Dallas Jesuit (TX)
Jack Stahanczyk Defense/LSM Archbishop Moeller (OH)
Demetrius Stevenson Midfield Caesar Rodney (DE)
Jonathan Taub Defense Watchung Hills (NJ)
Brad Thompson Attack Charlotte Catholic (NC)

*Compiled from a multitude of websites. Schools usually officially announce their recruiting class during the fall semester.

Poll

How many wins will Rutgers get in 2019?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    0-5
    (1 vote)
  • 33%
    6-7
    (18 votes)
  • 38%
    8-9
    (21 votes)
  • 25%
    10+
    (14 votes)
54 votes total Vote Now