NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — It’s not often that the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team energizes university athletics.
Fans, students and alumni are more inclined to tailgate and cheer for football—even when the team isn’t at its best. Women’s basketball, of course, has also enjoyed a long and successful run at Rutgers.
But lacrosse is making the big waves now.
The men’s team was ranked No. 1 in the country yesterday in the Maverik Media Poll. Top-dog status came after an 8-0 start to the lax season, the first such breakout streak since 1955, according to the university.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” head coach Brian Becht said. “It’s great for our institution and all our alumni [who] have been playing lacrosse here for the 100 seasons that we’re celebrating this year.”
If Rutgers men’s lax secures its ninth straight victory, it’ll claim the record for the best-ever start in the life of the program, according to the athletics department.
What’s more, this premier ranking is the first among any Rutgers team since 1995, when Soccer America gilded the men’s soccer program in its preseason preview.
“This team is legit,” ESPN’s lacrosse guru, Paul Carcaterra, recently told the Baltimore Sun. “They haven’t just beaten up on some inferior opponents. The way they play, the style, how athletic they are, they’re super fun to watch.”
Indeed, the Scarlet Knights have beaten three ranked teams thus far. That list includes No. 19 Brown, No. 14 Stony Brook and No. 15 Princeton. Rutgers athletics officials also noted that men’s lax has bested No. 8 Army and No. 20 Fairfield in the preseason.
Among the team’s firepower are a number of students who are sophomores and juniors, Carcaterra said.
“So this team isn’t only built for this year,” he added. “Next year, on paper, they’re going to be incredible.”
While the golden throne might feel nice now, there’s plenty of games left in which the team must defend it. The guys are on the road this weekend, with a 1 p.m. start Saturday in Delaware.
“There is still a lot of lacrosse left,” Becht said, “and we’re certainly excited to focus on Delaware this week and get ready for each day of practice.”