Junior’s game-winner guides Rutgers to overtime victory
Friday night proved to be quite defining for the Rutgers men’s soccer team.
While playing in Madison, Wisconsin, it appeared that the same late-game collapse from last season would once again cost the Scarlet Knights a win.
With less than two minutes left in regulation, the Badgers equalized the score, prompting forward J.P. Correa to take matters into his own feet. Correa delivered the winning goal off a header with 2:44 remaining in overtime, giving Rutgers a 3-2 win in its Big Ten debut and ending the Knights’ (3-2-0, 1-0-0) two-game skid.
The junior, who has experienced plenty of adversity during his college career, deems the performance as a huge confidence booster.
“It’s a great feeling, you know,” Correa said. “I’ve had a couple rough [moments] these past two years. … It feels great to get that win. It feels great to get back on the scoring sheet.”
With 35 shots taken, the game had no shortage of action.
Despite a strong opening 10 minutes from the Knights, it was the Badgers who took the 1-0 lead, with forward Tom Barlow collecting the goal off a quick counter attack in the 12th minute.
Rutgers then lost its defensive captain Drew Morgan late in the first half to a head injury, a recurring problem this season for the junior.
“We outplayed [Wisconsin] in the first half. We were just unfortunate to be down,” Correa said.
The Knights had several clear opportunities to equalize in the first half, but goalkeeper Casey Beyers came up with some big reflex saves.
Luck was not going Rutgers’ way until seven minutes into the second half, when Correa dispossessed a Wisconsin defender inside the 18-yard box before burying a left-footed strike past Beyers into the near post, making the score 1-1.
Despite Correa’s heroics, it was sophomore goalkeeper David Greczek who made seven great saves, including several that were one-on-ones with Badger forwards, to keep the score line level.
Junior midfielder Rayon Gibb’s goal with less than 10 minutes to go appeared to clinch the game, given the nature of his strike. The transfer student skillfully weaved past two defenders before delivering a perfectly placed left-footed curling shot into the far corner of the goal from outside the 18-yard box, making the score 2-1.
Wisconsin (1-4-0, 0-1-0) got its chance when an over-the-top pass from defender David Caban found the feet of rookie forward Mark Segbers. Segbers managed to wriggle past two Rutgers defenders before tucking home a right-footed shot just beyond Greczek’s reach.
A momentum shift seemed certain, having conceded so late, but the Knights fortunately managed to respond, unlike their last game against Hofstra.
“All week this week we were just practicing high press, high press and just win the ball back in three seconds, and that’s what we kept doing — we kept winning the ball,” Greczek said. “It could have been easily an 8-7 game [for] us, but I’m just happy we got the win.”
The win was Rutgers’ first road victory of the season and the Badgers’ third straight defeat. The Knights will also go down in history as the first-ever Rutgers team to register a win in the Big Ten.
Given how the match played out, it will be a memorable one.
“It’s an exciting way to join [the Big Ten],” head coach Dan Donigan said in a post-match interview with Big Ten Network. “We’re just thrilled to get out of here with the result, and [it] took a lot out of us to get that.”
For updates on the Rutgers men’s soccer team, follow @SeanStewartRU and @TargumSports on Twitter.