After years of work spent to get here, Brian Brecht and the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team are at the top.
The Scarlet Knights (8-0) opened the week at the top of the media poll for the first No. 1 ranking at Rutgers since the soccer team in 1995.
To Brecht, nothing changes in terms of the team mindset. But with six games left in the season, Rutgers has a target on its back.
“It’s nice being the hunter — it’s a different position to be hunted,” Brecht said. “It’s a great accomplishment for them, first and foremost. It’s great for our institution and all our alumni have been playing lacrosse here for 100 seasons that we’re celebrating this year, but a lot of lacrosse left and we’re certainly excited to focus on Delaware this week and get ready each day of practice.”
The road matchup with the Blue Hens (6-3) marks the final non-conference contest for Rutgers before its five-game Big Ten gauntlet to close the regular season.
“I don’t think (the No. 1 ranking) changes who we are and our approach during the week to game day,” Brecht said. “… (The players) certainly did a good job to put themselves in this situation in the first half of the season. We certainly have a lot lacrosse left, and I do like the way this group prepares for game day during the week and responds to challenges, and this is just another challenge that this team is going to have to be able to understand and obviously conquer.”
Just two years ago, Brecht was the coach of a team that went 5-10 with one conference win during its inaugural Big Ten season.
Rutgers bounced back last year with an 11-5 record and improved with a 3-2 mark in its second year in the conference, despite a snub from the NCAA tournament.
“The Big Ten Conference is probably the premiere and the best conference for lacrosse right now,” Brecht said. “And it’s exciting to be a part of that Big Ten Conference and it’s going to be exciting when Big Ten play starts when the weather warms up and we turn the page into April in another couple weeks.
“It’s exciting, but it’s also humbling sometimes to know that we’ve had a good start and it’s a great place to be right now for Rutgers and all of our players. But the work is not done, and we’ve got a lot of lacrosse left ahead of us.”