Goalie competition remains unsolved after opening loss


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Photo by Ramon Dompor |

Sophomore Kevin McMullen, who transferred from Southern Methodist, started the Knights' season-opening loss at Lehigh and conceded three goals. He is still in competition with juniors Adam Klink and Alex Morgans, both of whom last year saw action.


 

Aside from the usual question marks that come with the integrating of a new coaching staff, the Rutgers men's soccer also entered the 2010 season with a heated battle for the opportunity to be the starting goalkeeper.

And for the time being, nobody has the upper hand.

Competing for the job are juniors Alex Morgans and Adam Klink along with transfer Kevin McMullen.

Klink and Morgans shared time last season, with Klink taking over for the injured Jake Grinkevich in mid-September and Morgans starting the last seven games of the season.

"Coming in now, it's basically like we are all freshmen again," Klink said. "We all have to earn our spots and nothing is guaranteed. It's still just going out, working hard and doing everything you usually do. Soccer is nothing new to us."

According to Morgans, there is not much separating the three net minders talent-wise and the trio remains close off the field as well.

"I think we are all pretty evenly matched to be honest with you," the Jackson, N.J., native said. "It's going to be a tough decision everyday and we'll just leave it in the hands of the coaches."

With McMullen getting first licks in net, Rutgers kicked off its season yesterday in Bethlehem, Pa., against Lehigh. The debut for the new look Knights did not go according to plan, with the Rutgers finding themselves on the wrong end of a 3-0 final score.

But nobody said it was going to be easy.

"I'm trying to instill a winning mentality, a confidence, an arrogance that comes with competition. We just have to basically teach these guys how to have that winning mentality," said Donigan, who guided Saint Louis to seven NCAA Tournament appearances in nine years at the helm.

The Knights (0-1) mustered only two shots on goal while the Mountain Hawks (1-0) peppered McMullen with seven shots. Forward Joe Puleo took charge of the game, taking three shots and connecting on a pair of them for the first two goals of the game.

McMullen, a transfer from Southern Methodist, played all 90 minutes between the pipes after splitting time in the team's exhibition games with Klink and Morgans.

The decision as to who will be the full time starter is far from over.

"We have guys that are going to be fighting for positions all over the field and that includes in goal," Donigan said. "The thing they are going to have to buy into is that you can only play 11 guys at a time. As long as we have a good maturity and a good mentality that you got to fight for your time, which they have taken to so far, I expect good things."

To help the goaltenders, first-year head coach Dan Donigan brought in assistant coach Charlie Inverso after spending 24 seasons at the helm of Mercer County's program. He is also the goalkeeping coach for the U-14 and U-16 U.S. National soccer teams.

"I'm not a goalie guy, [assistant coaches Dave Beck and Brian Grazier] aren't goalie guys. We are three field guys," Donigan said. "Charlie brings a great maturity and that immediate respect for what he's accomplished as a coach himself. And he's the goalie coach for the [U-14 and U-16 National teams]. I mean it's like, really? Who's going to argue what he brings to the table?"

The Knights have nine days to go back to the drawing board and address any mistakes before taking the field in their home opener on Sept. 10 against Delaware.


A.J. Jankowski

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