Rutgers win over Ohio State could solidify NCAA Tournament home game


Rutgers win over Ohio State could solidify NCAA Tournament home game

PHOTO COURTESY OF RUTGERS ATHLETICS

Mitch Bartolo scored four goals in Thursday night’s 12-10 win.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Rutgers coach Brian Brecht could count on one finger the number of his players who had played in a Big Ten championship game heading into the week.

He didn’t need so many numbers to add up how many wins the Scarlet Knights have had on the Maryland field since the Big Ten began sponsoring lacrosse.

Both issues were resolved in Thursday night’s Big Ten semifinals, as second-seeded Rutgers dominated the second half to earn a 12-10 win over third-seeded Ohio State before 2,503.

Mitch Bartolo scored four goals, Ross Scott added three goals and an assist and Ronan Jacoby had a hat trick for the Scarlet Knights (13-2), who won their second trip to the league title and their first since 2016.

“It’s huge,” said senior defensive midfielder Brennan Kamish. “From what I understand, only Zack Franckowiak made the Big Ten final with our team. He’s an old chief, but it’s quite important and good for us. Obviously, to play for a championship and get that opportunity, you can’t short sell.

The Scarlet Knights will face top-seeded Maryland (13-0) in Saturday’s title game. The Terps brushed off fourth seed Johns Hopkins 16-11 to win for the 30th time in their last 31 outings dating back to 2020.

Skylar Wahlund had a career-high 21 saves, Jackson Reid had five goals and Jack Myers had two goals and three assists for the Buckeyes (10-5), who could have solidified their playoff credentials with a win and could instead face three nerfs. -full days before the NCAA Lacrosse Committee releases its 18-team tournament roster Sunday night.

Ohio State played a top-10 ranked schedule on Thursday, a number that can only improve after facing Rutgers. He’s 3-5 against the top 20 in the RPI, including losses to Harvard and Notre Dame – two teams joining him in the mix for the last one or two spots on the court.

“I think it’s more competitive than ever to get into the tournament, but I think we’ve planned accordingly,” coach Nick Myers said. “We have added another ACC to our schedule. We played [North Carolina], which was new. We played at Notre Dame. We played three Ivies and we played Denver. Our schedule force, in addition to the Big Ten, is as strong as any. I think teams that plan that way and get wins should be rewarded.

Rutgers’ reward for its second victory over Ohio State could solidify a first-round home game of the NCAA Tournament. The Scarlet Knights haven’t played a post-season game at Piscataway since 2003.

But that victory had nothing to do with their 18-7 hammering of the Buckeyes on March 27. This time, Ohio State took a 5-2 first quarter lead as Jack Myers played a part in all but one goal. The Buckeyes held on to a 7-4 advantage at the break and Reid’s fourth goal made it 8-5 early in the third quarter.

“I think we did a good job the first time around limiting them and we were able to get [by] easy,” Brecht said. “With these two having a day, it was not easy. That’s what May games are supposed to be. They’re not supposed to be easy, are they? »

Kamish said the Scarlet Knights came in with a plan similar to the one they used when they first met Ohio State, a sensible approach if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but acknowledged that they had made some mistakes. Some of the credit for the strengthened defense in the second half goes to Kamish and Franckowiak, the key short sticks in Rutgers’ string unit.

The Scarlet Knights offense finally got under way, Bartolo sparking the comeback with his first goal, a dart from Wahlund’s right side off a Jack Aimone feed. Rutgers scored six straight to go up 11-8, and Scott’s insurance goal with 2:02 left made it 12-9 to effectively seal it.

“We weren’t shooting the ball well and we weren’t putting the ball where we wanted it at all,” Bartolo said. “We just knew if we went out and moved the ball, we have six dangerous guys on the pitch at all times. It just comes down to moving the ball around and trusting our guys and trying to paint the pipes.

While Rutgers played better in the second half after shrugging off the rust of a 12-day layoff, Ohio State spat while playing its third game in 12 days. The Buckeyes managed just seven shots on goal in the second half, while the Scarlet Knights netted eight after the break.

“I think it’s a band that left it all there,” Myers said. “I’m proud of the effort. We ran out of gas. … We didn’t have enough possessions and we didn’t have enough influence. Bottom line: We ran out. This goalkeeper is a good goalkeeper, but we didn’t have enough chances to score and we really didn’t get anything in transition. This probably forced us to operate only in the half court.

In the first semifinal, Maryland used a five-goal halftime flurry to pull away from Johns Hopkins just 12 days after beating the Blue Jays 22-7, the Blue Jays’ most lopsided loss ever. in the history of the program.

Logan Wisnauskas had four goals and three assists and Logan McNaney made 14 saves for the Terrapins, who tied at 4 early in the second quarter before building a 15-6 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Garrett Degnon scored four goals for the Blue Jays (7-9), who lost five in a row to Maryland for the first time in the series‘ 124-game history.

“We knew they were going to be aggressive,” defender Brett Makar said. “For a lot of these guys that have been there we knew this could potentially be their last game and we knew some of their players would be a little bit more aggressive and try to get theirs and win some more games this week. .”

Unlike the decision to stick with the same tactic against Ohio State, Rutgers thinks they’re taking a different approach against Maryland. The Terps needed less than five minutes to score five goals on April 10 against the Scarlet Knights, before claiming a 17-9 loss.

Now comes a second chance – this one with the opportunity for Rutgers to claim their first Big Ten tournament title.

“They’re the best team in the country, there’s no doubt about that right now,” Bartolo said. “You have to beat the best to be the best. They came out very hot against us. We fell behind and never really caught up. We know we are a better team than we have shown and we look forward to the opportunity to play the best again.

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