PISCATAWAY, NJ – A pair of goals from sophomore Colin Checcio (Radnor, PA) and junior Austin Rodgers (Towson, MD) helped the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team (4-5) erase 16 years of frustration against Princeton (1-6). The duo combined for four goals and one assist as Rutgers knocked off the Tigers, 8-5, before 1,854 at Yurcak Field on Saturday.
With the win, Rutgers ends a 16-game losing streak to Princeton and also takes back possession of the Tots Meistrell Cup, which is awarded annually to the winner of the Rutgers-Princeton game. The trophies namesake is credited with reviving the sport at each school (Rutgers in 1919, Princeton is 1920). Rutgers’ last win in the series came in the 1989 season opener, a 10-7 triumph at Princeton.
In a hard-nosed, defensive game, Princeton struck first with 10:43 remaining in the opening quarter as Whitney Hayes scored an unassisted goal. Undaunted, senior Sean Battoni (Ringoes, NJ) evened the score five minutes later, but Princeton went ahead 2-1 after Peter Trombino netted a goal with six seconds left in the opening quarter.
The only goal of the second quarter was scored by Checcio, who took a pass from senior Leif Blomquist (Long Beach, NY) with 10:24 to play. The Rutgers defense limited the Tigers to just four second-quarter shots, and goalie Greg Havalchak (Corning, NY) made one save.
Princeton seized the early momentum in the third quarter, as Doneger connected on his second goal of the game with 10:43 to play. Twenty-one seconds later, however, Checcio scored a fast-break goal off a pass from defensemen Anthony Sicoli (Kinnelon, NJ). Rutgers rattled off the next two goals of the quarter – one from Matt Gaines (Abingdon, MD) and another from Jamie Lovejoy (Holbrook, NY) – and the Scarlet Knights had the Tigers back on their heels, trailing 5-3 with five minutes to play in the quarter. Mike Gaudio brought Princeton within one, 5-4, at the 3:48 mark, but Rutgers ended the third quarter was a fury, as Rodgers picked up a ground ball in front of the cage and scored with one second left to give RU an important two-goal cushion entering the fourth quarter.
Ted Melanson (Baltimore, MD) won the opening face-off of the fourth quarter, and quickly found Checcio, who advanced the ball in RU’s offensive zone. Checcio then left the ball for Dan Achatz (Seaford, NY), who dodged toward the cage and scored to give Rutgers a 7-4 lead. The only insurance goal the Scarlet Knights would need came when Chris Doctor (Skaneateles, NY) found Rodgers open from 10-yards out that extended RU’s lead to 8-4 with just over nine minutes to play.
Princeton held a 32-27 edge in total shots, with all but nine of those coming in the second half. Rutgers successfully killed off all three of PU’s man-up opportunities, and Melanson was 10-of-16 face-offs. Havalchak made 10 saves, which moved him into sole possession of eighth place on RU’s all-time saves list with 461.
Rutgers returns to action next Saturday, April 16, when it travels to the Carrier Dome to face defending national champion Syracuse at 3:00 p.m. The Scarlet Knights have won the last two meetings with the Orange, including a 14-10 triumph last year at Yurcak Field.
Rutgers vs. Princeton