PISCATAWAY, NJ – The Rutgers men’s lacrosse season will continue in the first round of the NCAA Division I Tournament as the Scarlet Knights earned one of 10 at-large bids to this year’s tournament. The Scarlet Knights (8-5) will face intrastate rival Princeton in the opening round on Saturday at Princeton’s Class of 1952 Stadium. Face-off time is set for noon. Tickets can be purchased through the Princeton University Ticket Office with prices ranging from $8 for adults and $3 for children 14 years of age and under.
The invitation marks the second consecutive season RU has qualified for the NCAA Tournament under third-year head coach Jim Stagnitta. It also marks the first time the Scarlet Knights have made consecutive post-season appearances since 1990, 1991. In its 81-year history, Rutgers has made nine trips to the NCAA Tournament and owns a 2-8 record, including wins in 1986 and 1990.
The NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse championship field includes six automatic bids to conference champions and 10 at-large invitations. Johns Hopkins, the 2003 national runner-up, is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Navy, Maryland and Syracuse.
Rutgers and Princeton met back on April 10 of this season with the Tigers pulling out a 9-7 victory in Princeton. The Scarlet Knights and Tigers have enjoyed a storied history, meeting 81 times, dating back to 1922. Princeton owns a 50-28-3 record in the all-time series. The Tigers have had recent success against Rutgers, winning the past 15 games, including this season’s victory. The Scarlet Knights’ last victory in the series was a 10-7 triumph on the road on March 4, 1989. The two schools, however, have never faced each other in postseason play.
Princeton, the Ivy League Champion, was awarded the sixth seed in the 16-school tournament. The Tigers ended the regular season 9-3 overall, with a 5-1 league mark. The Tigers clinched a share of the Ivy League crown with Cornell after a 9-6 victory over Brown on Saturday in Providence, RI. Princeton has won or shared the Ivy League title each of the last 10 years.
Should Rutgers advance past Princeton it will face the winner of the matchup between third-seeded Maryland and Army scheduled for Saturday as well, in College Park, MD. The NCAA Quarterfinal matchup would take place on Saturday, May 22 at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, VA.
During the regular season, Rutgers raced off to a 4-0 start and was ranked as high as No. 4 in the USILA coach’s poll for two weeks in March. The Scarlet Knights faced five ranked teams, and registered their most impressive victory when they defeated fourth-ranked Syracuse, 14-10, at Yurcak Field on Saturday, April 17. RU also ended an 11-game losing streak to Penn State, knocking off the Nittany Lions, 10-6, in State College, PA, on April 24.
Offensively, the Scarlet Knights are led by attackers Delby Powless (Hagersville, Ontario), who led the ECAC this season with 31 goals. He scored at least one goal in 12 of 13 games this year, including seven against Quinnipiac on March 13. Blomquist, a junior, has 17 goals and 17 assists for 34 points. In the midfield, senior Tim White (Rockville Center, NY) leads the team with 19 assists and has added 13 goals. Freshman Chris Doctor (Skaneateles, NY) has made an immediate impact with 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists).
On defense, sophomore goalie Greg Havalchak is one of the nation’s best as he led the ECAC in saves (164), goals against average (6.96) and save percentage (.646). The Tewaaraton Trophy candidate stopped 21 shots against Syracuse, including 10 in the decisive fourth quarter. Joe Duncan (Mountain Lakes, NJ) and Andrew Conforti (Ringoes, NJ) have each started 41 consecutive games and bring both experience and toughness to the unit.