Rutgers vs. Umass
May 5, 2007
The Game Story:
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - The Rutgers men's lacrosse team (7-6, 4-3) closed out its season with a 9-8 win over ECAC opponent UMass (7-7, 4-3) on an afternoon in which the team recognized its five graduating seniors prior to the start of the game. Five different Scarlet Knights scored in the game, led by senior Matt Gaines' (Abingdon, Md.) hat trick. With the win, Rutgers finishes the season with a winning record at 7-6, including a 4-3 mark in conference play.

The Minutemen out-shot the Scarlet Knights, 41-29, but UMass failed to record a save in the final half as RU made every shot count in a game where every goal was needed. Rutgers starting goalie Bill Olin (Horseheads, N.Y.) made 12 saves to help preserve the one-goal victory.

Rutgers and UMass traded goals for the first half of play as neither team took more than a one goal lead during those 30 minutes. First quarter goals by Mike Dugan (Summit, N.J.) and Gaines gave the Scarlet Knights a 2-1 lead to start the second quarter, but the Minutemen quickly tied the game just over two minutes into the second period on a goal by Andrew Recchione. UMass went on to score two more goals in the half, but RU's offense scored two of its own on goals by Colin Checcio (Wayne, Pa.) and Jeff Rommel (Syracuse, N.Y.) as the game went into halftime tied at four.

The Scarlet Knights offense outscored the Minutemen, 3-1, in the third quarter, on goals by three different players, and RU's defense held UMass to just nine shots in the period. Gaines netted his second goal of the game to give RU a 5-4 lead and Checcio's second goal of the afternoon increased his team's lead to two (6-4). Jim Connolly's goal at the 10:07 mark brought UMass within one, but freshman Justin Pennington (Flemington, N.J.) closed out the third quarter with his first of two goals and RU headed into the final quarter back up by two.

The Minutemen opened the final quarter with Connolly's second goal to bring UMass back within one. Pennington and Gaines scored two unanswered goals to give RU its largest lead of the game, a three-goal advantage at 9-6, with just over five minutes remaining. UMass then netted two unanswered scores of its own, including a goal by Recchione with under a minute remaining, and UMass trailed by just one with 59 seconds on the clock. Recchione had an opportunity to tie the game at nine with a shot that seemed to get past RU goalie Olin, but a crease violation was called at 18 seconds to negate the shot and give the ball back to Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights then ran the clock down for the win.

With his two goals, Checcio finishes the season with a team-best 33 goals, also a career-high for the senior. Gaines finishes with 18 goals, just two shy of his season-high of 20 which he recorded last spring. Josh Ashcraft (Carthage, N.Y.), Chris Doctor (Skaneateles, N.Y.) and Zach Trent were the other three seniors honored prior to the start of the game.

Connolly and Recchione each netted two goals for the Minutemen, and UMass goalie Doc Schneider finished with seven saves, but none in the second half . RU and UMass each won 10 of the 20 face-offs and both converted on 1-of-3 extra man opportunities in the game.