A Division I Men's lacrosse quarterfinal playoff games between Rutgers...

A Division I Men's lacrosse quarterfinal playoff games between Rutgers and Penn played at Shuart Stadium Hofstra University Credit: Lee Weissman / Hofstra University

Cole Daninger was remarkably clear-eyed about what he and his Rutgers men’s lacrosse teammates accomplished.

Being a member of the first team in school history to reach the Final Four is nice.

But it is not a surprise. Rather, it is the standard.

“Everybody’s expecting to be here,” Daninger said after sixth-seeded Rutgers outlasted third seeded Penn 11-9 in the first of two NCAA lacrosse quarterfinal games at James M. Shuart Stadium on the campus of Hofstra University Saturday.

The Scarlet Knights (15-3)  will meet the winner of Sunday’s quarterfinal game between Cornell and Delaware next Saturday in Hartford. 

“This,” Daninger said, “is our culture now.”

Which meant navigating adversity on a steamy afternoon in Hempstead. Along with the heat, Rutgers found itself trailing 8-6 early in the fourth quarter before scoring five straight goals in a span of 8:15 to turn the deficit to a 11-8 lead. 

Shane Knobloch scored two of his three goals in the run. Mitch Bartolo added the second of his two goals in the spurt, and Dante Kulas, and Bryan Boswell each added a strike.

“We made an adjustment in the fourth quarter to keep them from getting any of the transition,” Penn coach Mike Murphy said. “We just didn’t follow that adjustment very well, frankly.”

The Quakers (11-5) took their first lead of the game on Chris Canet’s first of the season 1:20 into the fourth quarter and Dylan Gergar’s hat trick goal 1:37 later stretched the advantage to 8-6. 

Following a tightly-contested first quarter, the game opened up in the second as the Scarlet Knights and Quakers combined for six goals. 

Trailing 2-0, the Quakers drew even on Gabe Furey (13:48) and Cam Rubin (11:48) strikes two minutes apart in the second quarter only for Rutgers to regain the lead on Ronan Jacoby’s goal 1:19 later.

The lead lasted a full 29 seconds, as Jack Shultz’s 15th tied the game at 3-3.

Ethan Rall’s second of the season broke the deadlock but Gergar’s 49th of the season with 54 seconds remaining sent the teams into halftime knotted 4-4.

The game’s punch-counterpunch nature continued in the third quarter as Rutgers took its second two-goal lead of the game on Bartolo’s goal at 2:11 and Zackary Franckowiak’s strike at 9:02.

One minutes and 19 seconds after Fanckowiak’s goal, the game was tied. Gergar brought Penn within one with his second of the game and 43 seconds later, Robert Schain tied the game with his first of the season.  

Ross Scott opened the scoring with his 49th of the season with 4:57 left in the first quarter, and Knobloch pushed Rutgers’ lead to 2-0 with his 30th goal nearly three minutes later.

Princeton defeats Yale

Joining Rutgers in the semifinals will be fifth-seeded Princeton who topped fourth-seeded Yale, 14-10, in the day’s second quarterfinal game. The Bulldogs will meet the winner of the quarterfinal game between top-seeded Maryland and Virginia next Saturday in Hartford.

“It’s everything for us,” George Baughan said. “We’re just so fortunate to be here and really excited about the outcome.”

After spotting Princeton (11-4) a 1-0 advantage just seven seconds into the game, Yale (12-5) responded with three straight goals from Chris Lyons, Patrick Hackler, and Brad Sharp in a span of 2:22 to take a 3-1 lead with 10:06 left in the first quarter.

That might have been the high point for the Bulldogs, who promptly allowed seven straight goals in a stretch of 14:03 spanning the first and second quarters to fall behind 8-3. Lyons and Christian Copp scored the final two goals of the first half, and Sharp’s second of the game 1:02 into the third cut Princeton’s lead to 8-6.

At which point the game became a highly entertaining shootout because the Ivy League rivals recorded three goals apiece over the next 9:12.

Sam English extended the Tigers’ lead to 12-9 with his second of the game with 3:18 left in the third, and Chris Brown’s 30th of the season 5:20 into the fourth swelled the advantage. Sharp tallied his third goal of the game with 8:30 remaining to let Yale close to 13-10 but  English’s hat trick goal with 30.4 seconds left ended the scoring.

“They really took it to us,” Yale coach Andy Shay said. “The second quarter was killer.”


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