Despite Charalambides Injury, Rutgers Loaded with Talent Ahead of 2018


Kieran Mullins returns to the Rutgers offense after leading the team with 35 goals last season.

US Lacrosse Magazine released the Nike/US Lacrosse Division I Men’s Preseason Top 20 on Jan. 8. Team-by-team previews will be unveiled on throughout January and will also appear as part of the magazine’s NCAA preview edition that mails to US Lacrosse members Feb. 1 — opening day of the 2018 college lacrosse season.

No. 7 Rutgers

2017 Record: 10-4 (2-3)
Coach: Brian Brecht (7th year)
All-Time Record: 595-500-14
NCAA Appearances: 9|
Final Fours: 0
Championships: 0

Adam Charalambides watched last season as Rutgers began 8-0 with wins over three ranked teams, but lost four of six games down the stretch to finish out of contention for the Big Ten tournament. He knew he wanted to get back for what could be an exciting 2018 season.

He worked hard rehabbing his knee, even balancing personal therapy with a job in New York City. But during the 2018 preseason, he injured his ACL again, causing him to miss a second straight season for Rutgers.

He was to join a Rutgers offense that included another promising underclassman in Kieran Mullins, as well as senior Jules Heningburg. A Scarlet Knights offense spearheaded by all three could have been one of the most potent in Division I.

Yet, the Scarlet Knights will have the deal with absence of Charalambides again.

"I am saddened for Adam after how hard he worked to get back on the field this spring," coach Brian Brecht said in a statement. "He is an exceptional young man and I have full confidence that he will attack his recovery and come back stronger next season. His teammates and coaching staff are fully supporting him during this time as he will continue to be a huge part of our program this season."

Yes, Brecht will be without a star player in Charalambides, but he returns one of the more talented rosters in the nation. Back from injury is midfielder Christian Trasolini and 2016 primary faceoff man Alex Schoen. Also back from a redshirt freshman season in which he played just two games is LSM Garrett Bullett.

If the talent and depth of this Rutgers team can produce as expected, it could be one of the more exciting teams in the nation. However, a Big Ten schedule will always be a challenge, especially given it includes the national champions (Maryland) and runners-up (Ohio State).

Rutgers has a few things going for it. For starters, it beat Ohio State last season and took Maryland to three overtimes before falling. The Scarlet Knights were extremely competitive and just missed out on the NCAA tournament.

Now, with 13 seniors returning and a talented core, the Scarlet Knights are hoping for their first NCAA tournament berth since 2004.

“Rutgers lacrosse has grown tremendously over the past two years, so we’re looking to win as much as we can,” Mullins said. “We’re looking to go to the Big Ten championship this year. We want to try to make the NCAA tournament. We’re just trying to take that next step for our program.”

The Case For Rutgers

It seems Rutgers is continuing to trend upward. After years of futility, Brecht has the Scarlet Knights surging toward the NCAA tournament.

Much of the onus will be put on the Rutgers offense, which includes Mullins and Heningburg. Back from injury is middie Christian Trasolini, faceoff man Alex Schoen and LSM Garrett Bullett.

If the opportunistic defense can compete with the talented offenses in the Big Ten and the Scarlet Knights offense does what is expected, this program could be looking at postseason play.

The Case Against Rutgers

Playing in the Big Ten always presents challenges, especially for a team like Rutgers, which has been eyeing the conference tournament for some time. With defending champion Maryland, runners-up Ohio State and talented teams in Penn State and Johns Hopkins, even a strong team could miss out on the postseason.

That’s what happened last season, when Rutgers beat Ohio State and narrowly lost to Maryland. The Scarlet Knights were so close.

Rutgers doesn’t have much room for error, and Brecht and his team know that. It doesn't help that Charalambides will now miss the 2018 season.

Path to the Playoffs

Rutgers will certainly test itself in the early season, which matchups against Army (Feb. 17), Brown (March 3) and Princeton (March 10) all away.

Even when the Scarlet Knights are home before the Big Ten season begins, it hosts Syracuse (March 18) and Delaware (March 24). Those aren’t easy games by any means.

Then the Big Ten hits — home games against Hopkins and Michigan, but road games with Maryland (April 15) and Ohio State (April 28). The path to the postseason could include an at-large berth into the NCAA tournament, but a conference win would assure the bid.

Players To Watch

Kieran Mullins, A, So.
35G, 16A

Coming off a strong freshman year, Mullins will look to play off of and with his fellow offensive weapons. A repeat of a 51-point, 2017 season would make sense.

Jules Heningburg, A, Sr.
20G, 26A

Lost in the attention of the Rutgers offense is a stud in Heningburg, who will help facilitate this offense. He’ll be heavily involved on the Scarlet Knights attack.

Michael Rexrode, D, Sr.
28 GB

Rexrode will help anchor the Rutgers defense, which ranked in the top 20 last season with 9.07 goals against.

National Rankings




Offense 14th 11.71 GPG
Defense 18th 9.07 GAA
Faceoffs 19th 53.8%
Ground Balls 9th 32.14/game
Caused TO 3rd 9.71/game
Shooting 31st 29.0%
Man-Up 62nd 24.2%
Man-Down 19th 70.0%
Assists 16th 6.79/game
Turnovers 33rd 13.43/game
Clearing 36th 87.1%

Power Ratings (Scale of 1-5)






Winning percentage since the last time Rutgers made the NCAA tournament in 2004. After a decade of lackluster seasons, the Scarlet Knights have returned back-to-back winning seasons.

5-Year Trend
Winning Percentage




2013 60th 13.3%
2014 33rd 50%
2015 55th 33.3%
2016 14th 68.8%
2017 12th 71.4%

Coach Confidential
Brian Brecht

“We’re going to see how mature these 13 seniors are, and how well they’ve learned from the experiences of the past three years. The successes, but also the disappointment of the last two seasons by not making the postseason. That’s going to be a big challenge for us.”

Enemy Lines
Rival Coaches

"This team is loaded and angry, similar to the West Point script.  Sure, they struggled the second half of the season but they ended their year with a monster win over the Buckeyes.  Want to ruin about an hour of your life:  call Brian Brecht and bring up the NCAA selection committee and their criteria:  seemingly rational counterpoints will be utterly ignored.  Brian Brecht has returners everywhere:  in the goal (Max Edelman ), at the FO X (Joe Francisco), on offense (both Kieran Mullins and Jules Heninburg are impact) and on defense (Michael Rexrode).  This team is poised to have another top 10 ranking in the first half of the season as the schedule starts with opponents who will most likely not be able to handle the pace and pressure Rutgers will apply.  A March game up in Providence, RI could see 50 goals scored.  Can they keep it rolling against the Big Ten in April?  This is their year to make it happen. ... They're the wild card with all the injured guys they have coming back. ... Bring a stable of players back from last year and injury. ... Don’t be surprised to see them in the final four. ...You look at schematically what they do, it’s different. There’s a lot of teams playing a little more of a style like that, but they’ve done it really well. They have so many experienced guys. They’ve been so close, and they’ve lost only one home game in two years. They should be really good in the goal, and they have veterans everywhere else. They should be a really good team, and they should have that chip on their shoulder.

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