Rutgers fights to a draw on road at UMKC
In what was a productive weekend away from Piscataway, the Rutgers men’s soccer team came home with a win and a draw after playing two games in three days.
After winning their first game of the season last Friday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Scarlet Knights (1-2-1) faced off against the UMKC Kangaroos (2-0-1) in Kansas City, Missouri on Sunday.
Both teams fought hard, but neither could get the ball into the back of the net. After a full 90 minutes and two 10-minute overtimes, the score stood at 0-0, even with both teams getting several good chances to get on the scoreboard.
“We played in very difficult conditions,” said head coach Dan Donigan. “Along with the four-hour drive down to Kansas City from Tulsa, we played on a turf field and it was hot as hell. It had to be upwards of 100 degrees.”
The Kangaroos seemed to come out more aggressive than the Knights at the start, getting three shots off within the first 10 minutes, one of which was saved by junior goalkeeper Rafael Pereira. The Knights got their first shot in at the 12:41 mark, but senior midfielder Dante Perez’s shot was too high.
A header by freshman defender Bryce Washington and another shot from redshirt sophomore forward Brian Hawkins rounded out the Knights' shots for the first half, with both being saved by UMKC goalkeeper Filippo Errico. UMKC only took one more shot in the first half, but it too was saved by Pereira.
“After a short rest between games, the guys came out and gave everything they got,” Pereira said. “It was really, really hot here, we played on a turf field that we are not used to, so overall it was a good performance.”
Rutgers came out aggressive in the second half, getting a shot off two minutes in and continuing to take good attempts at scoring through the remainder of regulation. Junior forward Miles Hackett and fifth-year senior Ethan Vanacore-Decker each had two shots early in the second half, while Hawkins and fifth-year senior Erik Sa added shot attempts that unfortunately missed as well.
In the 83rd minute, Vanacore-Decker was fouled in the penalty box and awarded a penalty kick. But Vanacore-Decker’s kick went left and was blocked by UMKC’s Errico to keep the score tied.
“It was a tough game,” Vanacore-Decker said. “We feel like we really battled and should have won it. We came away with four points on the weekend and anything is better than a loss.”
Vanacore-Decker and freshman midfielder Kyle Galloway each gave a final effort to end the game in regulation with shots, but they were blocked and saved respectively, and the first 90 minutes of the game ended.
After the five-minute rest period, Rutgers got two good shots in from Washington through the duration of the first overtime period, but couldn’t get anything to go.
Things got intense in the 103rd minute when UMKC forward Eric McWoods was fouled in the box and came up because of a penalty kick against Pereira, who then returned the favor from the first penalty kick by blocking and saving the ball off the kick from McWoods.
The second overtime saw much of the same from both squads, with Hawkins' shot being blocked and senior forward Ryan Peterson’s shot missing over the crossbar, and UMKC missing another two shots as well.
“I thought we played well enough to win the game, so we were very unlucky not to have gotten the result,” Donigan said. “Coming away with at least a tie is the next best thing, so I was very pleased with the effort of our group.”
Only two Rutgers players were given yellow cards in this game, compared to UMKC’s three, but UMKC was able to outshoot the Knights, 16-15.
Rutgers hopes to take the momentum from this past weekend and use it in Friday night's Big Ten opener against Michigan State.
“We got our first shutout and that is a huge positive and should help our confidence for the next couple of games,” Pereira said.
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