Brian Becht on Rutgers men’s lax getting homefield advantage for the NCAA Tournament this weekend

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Rutgers men’s lacrosse has now made consecutive NCAA Tournament, a show of strength given how tight the sport is and the limited spots in the tournament every year.

Rutgers is ranked eighth in the nation, a drop of four spots following their loss in the Big Ten Tournament title game to Maryland. The Scarlet Knights are the sixth seed in the NCAA Tournament and will host No. 14 Harvard this weekend.

Maryland is the consensus top-ranked team in the nation. There are three Big Ten teams ranked currently in the \ Rankings (Rutgers beat No. 11 Ohio State in one of the semifinal matches in the Big Ten Tournament).

This weekend is a big moment for the program according to head coach Brian Becht.

“Our fan base has been great. Our alumni support has been great for all our home games. You know, and it’s certainly the weather’s nice – big games in the month of May are always exciting and competitive,” Brecht said on Sunday night following the team’s selection to the NCAA Tournament.

“And to host a first round NCAA Tournament game…this is why you compete. This is why you go to work every day. This is why the kids chose Rutgers, to be Scarlet Knights and these student-athletes here at Rutgers – I”m excited for them. It’s a great opportunity for them to play in front of their fans, their alumni, the student body here on campus and very thankful for that opportunity.”

In a scheduling quirk, the first-round NCAA Tournament game will be hosted by Rutgers but at SHI Stadium, the usual venue for the sport. Due to graduation being at the stadium, the lacrosse program will move to Yurcak Field.

The soccer venue should provide an intimate feel for the game. In a bit of a plot twist, Rutgers will be playing on grass at Yurcak Field rather than the usual artificial surface at SHI Stadium.

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When asked if playing on grass will be an issue, Brecht said “not at all.”

“In the early part of the season if we start in January, February, March, you know with the weather and stuff, you need to have the turf, but in May…we went down to Virginia last year, we played Lehigh in the first round tournament on grass, and it was a great experience,” Brecht said.

“We practiced the week before going down there at Yurcak to get used to the grass or at least have that experience. So you couldn’t say ‘Oh, we haven’t played on grass before.’ So at the end of the day, the facilities here at Rutgers and the support staff [make sure] that field is immaculate and it’s just like a turf field.

“So if anything, I think it’s a little more juice for our program. Ron Yurcak was an All-American and a lacrosse alum here at Rutgers. So I think our alumni would be so excited to be in that stadium and have a great sunny day here in May for a home playoff game. Great atmosphere here at Rutgers. We’re excited.”