2021 NCAA Lacrosse Preview: No. 19 Rutgers (Men)

PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER

Adam Charalambides enters his improbable seventh season of college lacrosse having scored 105 goals in his Rutgers career, good for 10th in program history.


College lacrosse is back. As perhaps the most anticipated season in NCAA history approaches, we’re featuring every team ranked in the Nike/US Lacrosse Preseason Top 20.

Check back to USLaxMagazine.com each weekday for new previews, scouting reports and rival analysis.

No. 19 Rutgers

2020 Record: 2-4
Pre-COVID Ranking: NR

 

Rutgers men’s lacrosse is excited for the future and just as enthusiastic about the present. The attitude around the men’s lacrosse program in Piscataway, N.J., is as palpable as it has been in years. 

In the past year, the Scarlet Knights have been through a pandemic-shortened season but also welcomed a number of positive developments both on and off the field. 

News came out in May that former Villanova star Connor Kirst and his brother Colin (Lehigh) intended to transfer to Rutgers. Coach Brian Brecht gladly allowed for one of the best middies in the country to follow in his father’s footsteps and play for the Scarlet Knights. Not to mention his brother, Colin, a goalie like his father.

Months later, the Rutgers men’s and women’s lacrosse teams entered their new home at the Gary and Barbara Rodkin Academic Success Centera new 80,000-square foot facility that features both locker rooms and a gym for training. 

Nike/USL Preseason Top 20
Team Previews

1. Duke 2. Syracuse 3. Maryland 4. Penn State
5. Virginia 6. North Carolina 7. Denver 8. Yale
9. Cornell 10. Notre Dame 11. Georgetown 12. Ohio State
13. Loyola 14. UMass 15. Army 16. Lehigh
17. Richmond 18. Penn 19. Rutgers 20. Johns Hopkins

Brecht spoke just days after stepping into his office for the first time. 

“The set-up here is outstanding. I could not be happier,” Brecht said. “You talk about things and look at things on paper, but when you can walk in and sit back and take it all in, the opportunity that these guys have, it’s unbelievable. There haven’t been a lot of positives in 2020 at Rutgers, but this was one.” 

As much as things feel new for the members of Rutgers lacrosse, with a few notable transfers and a fresh athletic facility, the stars of this roster provide a glimpse at the history of a program that still aims to break into the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2004. 

Among the veterans that have brought Rutgers back to this point is Adam Charalambides, the seventh-year senior that has played with the likes of Scott Bieda, Jules Heningburg and Christian Mazzone. He’s moving up Rutgers' career scoring leaderboard, but he’s more concerned with breaking the proverbial glass ceiling that Rutgers has developed over the past 16 years. 

Charalambides will line up alongside his teammate of five years, Kieran Mullins, who sits one goal shy of 100 for his career. The two talented attackmen form a core that has helped Rutgers make pushes for the NCAA tournament in 2016, 2017 and 2018. 

Now the most experienced players on the roster, they know they have a responsibility to bring the full potential out of this team and set Rutgers up for the future. 

“I just want to have fun with the guys,” Charalambides said. “When the guys are having fun, that’s when you see the most amount of energy. Being the older guy, I just want to bring that balance to the team. If they need more energy or a kick in the butt, I just want to be that positive voice to keep guys going.” 

Rutgers might have its deepest team in years, equipped with a veteran defense and a strong midfield that Brecht expects to push transition, but Charalambides and Mullins may hold the potential of an NCAA tournament on their sticks. 

“You talk about two great leaders and dynamic players on the field,” Brecht said. “Having them on the field and healthy, having their experience and leadership, could be a big part of our success this spring.”






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TOP RETURNERS  

Adam Charalambides, A, Grad.  

Charalambides enters his improbable seventh season of college lacrosse having scored 105 goals in his Rutgers career, good for 10th in program history. When healthy, he’s scored over 40 goals in a season twice. Brecht said that this was Charalambides’ “best fall” of training.    

Kieran Mullins, A, R-Sr.  

Mullins returns for a fifth year after dropping 10 goals and 10 assists in a shortened 2020 season. His 179 career points rank eighth in program history. He and Charalambides have developed plenty of chemistry on the Rutgers offense.    

Tommy Coyne, M, Sr.  

Coyne enters his third full season at Rutgers as a starting midfielder, finishing fourth on the team with 24 points in 2019. He can play both midfield and attack and could provide a boost to an already loaded offense.  

KEY ADDITION   

Connor Kirst, M, Gr.  

Kirst, the former star at Villanova, might have been the biggest pickup in Division I lacrosse had it not been for Michael Sowers. The former Big East Player of the Year brings 126 career goals to Rutgers, and he will get the chance to play with his brother and fellow transfer, Colin.   

ENEMY LINES

What rival coaches are saying about the Scarlet Knights:

“They bring a lot back. They’re going to be scary on attack. They have a combination of experience and skill and added possibly most dynamic scoring midfielder in the game.”

NUMBERS GAME

17  

Years since Rutgers has advanced to the NCAA tournament, a streak that looked likely to end from 2016-18 but stood intact. With a roster stacked with talented veterans, this could be the Scarlet Knights’ best chance to advance in years. 

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