Rutgers falls on road to Michigan
The Rutgers men’s soccer team has begun a new losing streak for the third time this season, losing a tough match over the weekend in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The Scarlet Knights (2-9-1, 0-6-0) traveled up north on Friday night, where they faced fellow Big Ten team Michigan (7-3-2, 4-1-1). Rutgers could not overcome a 2-1 halftime deficit, ultimately falling 3-1.
Friday night’s loss marked the seventh loss in eight matches for the Knights, who struggled heavily in the early stretch of the season and seem to be having a hard time shaking it off. Despite this, Rutgers did manage to capture a victory over Princeton on the road two weeks ago.
“I’m just disappointed in some little things, just little mistakes here and there that ultimately led to the result,” said head coach Dan Donigan. “We weren’t prepared for them, so give Michigan a lot of credit because they are very good.”
Both sides got off to good starts early on, each getting a shot up before two minutes even crossed the clock, although they both missed.
In just the eighth minute, Wolverines midfielder Ivo Cerda scored the first goal of the match, in between what was an onslaught of kicks that saw Michigan attempt five shots in just the first 10 minutes, compared to just two from Rutgers.
Then in the 20th minute, Wolverines forward Francis Atuahene put in the second goal of the match for Michigan, giving them a big 2-0 lead and leaving the Knights reeling to set up a scoring opportunity.
The next 15 minutes went by somewhat quietly, with Rutgers attempting just one shot and the Wolverines just two, but this patience was all going to pay off for the Knights shortly.
Senior forward Ryan Peterson scored the lone goal of the match for Rutgers in the 38th minute, after fellow senior forward Erik Sa set him up from the top. Peterson put in the header goal and narrowed the gap to 2-1.
“We got a free kick from about 25-30 yards out. We had the ball down, everybody set up and got into their normal positions,” Peterson said. “Me and Erik made eye contact and then he put a great shot into good position for me to get up and get it into the net with my head.”
Sa and junior forward Miles Hackett each got another shot off during the remainder of the first half, but neither could find the back of the net.
The Knights took their first shot of the second half pretty quickly, as freshman defender Vincent Borden’s shot went wide left of the goal just two minutes into the half. This would end up being one of only three shots Rutgers took in the second half.
Atuahene scored his second goal of the match in the 57th minute off the third assist of the match for Wolverines forward Mohammed Zakyi, giving back a two-goal lead to Michigan.
Hackett and sophomore forward Brian Hawkins attempted the last two shots of the match for the Knights, with Hackett’s shot being saved by the Wolverines goal keeper and Hawkins’s shot going wide left of the goal.
“It’s another rough loss especially since now every match really counts if we want to make it into the NCAA tournament,” Hawkins said. “We’ve just got to focus on the next one and hopefully we will make a big run in the Big Ten tournament.”
Rutgers was unable to catch up to Michigan in the end, adding another loss to its season and putting themselves in a tough situation with just five matches left this season, two of which are against the Big Ten. The Knights are also setting themselves up to potentially have double-digit loses for the second straight season, a feat not wanted by any team.
The Wolverines out shot Rutgers 20-9, more than doubling Rutgers in each half and for the match. Junior goalkeeper Rafael Pereira had another good performance saves wise, adding another five to his season totals.
Rutgers will try to capture its first win at home this season this Wednesday night, in what will be a pivotal match on the winding down season. The Knights will host NJIT at Yurcak Field for another interstate rivalry matchup.
“We’re not going to feel sorry for ourselves or make any excuses, but now we’ve got to get back home and get ready for a quick turnaround against NJIT,” Donigan said.
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