EVANSTON, IL–May 5 was quite the day for Rutgers lacrosse, as both the men’s and women’s teams picked up wins in their respective Big Ten Tournaments.
The women took the field first, taking on the Ohio State Buckeyes, ranked 17th in the nation, at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
Rutgers “WLAX” had struggled during the regular season in 2016, finishing with just a 6-11 record.
While the Scarlet Knights were just 2-3 in Big Ten play, one of those wins was a monumental overtime upset over the Buckeyes on April 21 in Piscataway. The Buckeyes were ranked ninth in the nation at the time.
So when it was learned the two teams would have a rematch in the Big Ten quarterfinals, it was clear #5 seed Ohio State would look to avenge that loss, while #4 seed Rutgers would try to make lightning strike twice.
The second meeting between the Scarlet Knights and the Buckeyes played much like the first, as no team was ever able to pull away. Despite a bevy of turnovers by Rutgers, they played solid defense, preventing Ohio State from taking advantage.
It was a back-and-forth affair where no team ever had more than a two-goal lead. The contest remained close to the final minutes of regulation, and the teams were tied when the clock hit zero.
In the first half of the overtime period, the Buckeyes threatened a number of times, but were never able to break through. But minutes later, Rutgers gained possession and quickly took advantage, as junior Amanda Turturro scored the game-winning goal to send the Scarlet Knights to the next round.
The women on the Scarlet Knights lacrosse team were not able to celebrate for long, as their win earned them a date with Maryland, the tournament’s #1 seed and the nation’s #1 team, in the Big Ten semifinals.
At that matchup, the Terps continued their winning ways, prevailing 19-9 over the Knights, increasing their record for the season to 18-0, and ending the season for the Rutgers WLAX squad.
Back on the East Coast, the #2 seeded Rutgers men (11-4, 3-2 in the Big Ten) took the field on a rainy evening in Baltimore against the host team, #3 seeded Johns Hopkins.
The Scarlet Knights and Blue Jays met earlier this season at High Point Solutions Stadium. On April 2, Rutgers stunned Johns Hopkins, then ranked #9 in the nation, in a 16-9 rout.
Like the women’s game earlier in the day, the men’s contest was a back-and-forth game where the biggest lead for both teams was just two goals.
Rutgers entered the fourth quarter with a 12-11 lead, but the advantage as short-lived as the Blue Jays struck just over 30 seconds into the fourth quarter, tying the game at 12.
A few tense minutes followed, but Rutgers goals scored by redshirt freshman Adam Charalambides and freshman Zackary Franckowiack gave the Scarlet Knights a two-goal lead that they would never relinquish.
The dramatic 14-12 win punched Rutgers’ ticket to the Big Ten Tournament final, where they too would fall to the Maryland Terrapins.
Maryland, one of the nation’s top teams, fresh off a 16-9 rout of Penn State, went on to defeat the Scarlet Knights by a final score of 14-8 on May 7.
That loss also ended the team’s season, though their second place finish in the Big Ten left open the possibility they would make the cut for the annual National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament.
At least one journalist believed that the men’s team had been “inexplicably snubbed” by the NCAA after they opted not to let the Scarlet Knights continue their season in the tournament that will decide the sport’s national championship.
Instead it was the Blue Jays of Johns Hopkins who made the cut for the 16-team tournament, much to the chagrin of Scarlet Knights fans.