Men’s lacrosse faced off against the seventh-ranked Rutgers University Scarlet Knights on Saturday to continue Big Ten Conference play. Hopkins entered the game ranked 14th in the nation, so they were hoping to put up a good fight.
Freshman attackman Brendan Grimes discussed the team’s preparation.
“Rutgers has done a great job this year,” he said. “But we know every game in the Big Ten is going to be a battle no matter who it is. Knowing some of their tendencies was big for the preparation, but the main thing was focusing on ourselves and how to be the best version of ourselves on game day.”
The team’s hard work seemed to pay off at first, as the first quarter was intensely close. In the second minute of the game, Rutgers scored the first goal, but after a few more minutes, Hopkins fired back. Junior attackman Joey Epstein scored the first goal for the Blue Jays.
As the first quarter was winding to a close, junior midfielder Garrett Degnon scored another goal to give Hopkins its first lead of the day. In the last two minutes, Rutgers fired back, and the first quarter ended in a 2-2 tie.
The second quarter started with a rush of energy from the Blue Jays’ offense. The Scarlet Knights earned an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in between periods, and in response, graduate student attackman Cole Williams scored only 20 seconds in. And only 40 seconds later, senior attackman Connor DeSimone followed with a goal of his own.
Rutgers attempted to slow the offensive assault with some offense of their own. After a Hopkins turnover, they managed to score and bring the lead down to one. But DeSimone followed again with a goal, his second of the game.
Rutgers scored once more after a cross-checking penalty by the Blue Jays. Again, the lead was down to one point. In the last six minutes of the half, Grimes and Degnon each scored, bringing the score to 7-4. Rutgers put in one last goal for the half, but Hopkins still entered halftime with a confident lead.
After a 5-3 second quarter, the Blue Jays seemed to have momentum on their side. In an effort to keep this going, Grimes and DeSimone both shot well-aimed attempts but were stopped by the Rutgers goalie. In response, Rutgers scored the first goal of the half and brought the lead again to a single point.
Neither team scored for nearly five minutes until Rutgers put in their second consecutive goal. The score was now tied at 7-7, and a media timeout gave the Blue Jays some time to adjust their strategy. But with two minutes left in the quarter, the score had remained unchanged.
Finally, the Blue Jays began another attempt to pull away as Degnon scored, securing a hat-trick for himself. But 20 seconds later, the Scarlet Knights again tied the game. The game entered the fourth quarter with an 8-8 tie.
Grimes reflected on the difference between halves for the Blue Jays.
“We played some good and tough lacrosse in the first half, and that showed on the scoreboard,” he said. “That fell off in the second half, so going forward we need to have a focus of playing a full 60 minutes of lacrosse.”
If Grimes wasn’t referencing the third quarter, then he was certainly referencing the fourth, as things completely fell apart for Hopkins. Two quick Rutgers goals made the score 10-8 after only two minutes. Junior midfielder Evan Zinn put in a goal to mitigate the run, but that ended up being the only goal Hopkins could score in the fourth quarter.
Rutgers ended by scoring five unanswered goals in 10 minutes, ending the game 15-9. After keeping it close the entire game, the Blue Jays couldn’t overcome a 7-1 fourth quarter. Despite the loss, Degnon earned himself a hat-trick while growing his streak of goal-scoring to 11 consecutive games. This loss brings the team’s record to 2-3.
Grimes looked ahead to the team’s upcoming schedule.
“For the rest of the season, I think we are just going to continue to work on ourselves,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who we play; we just need to compete the hardest we can and be the best version of ourselves. I think we are all excited to get into the second half of Big Ten play and are ready to keep improving.”
The Blue Jays will attempt to show their improvement next against Penn State on Sunday in Pennsylvania. In the previous game against Penn State, the Blue Jays won 13-6.