Rutgers gets Wright back on track with 8-nil win
Facing top level competition in one of the best conferences in collegiate soccer can be an exhausting experience for a team, both physically and mentally. So when a break in conference play presents itself, it provides an opportunity to relax and regain confidence.
The Rutgers men’s soccer team took full advantage of its latest recess from Big Ten play.
The Scarlet Knights (4-3-1, 1-2-0) learned their lesson from the 3-1 defeat they suffered against Michigan State last Friday and put their new knowledge to use. The Knights scored two goals in the opening 10 minutes of the first half and six goals in the second half on route to an 8-0 thrashing of the Greyhounds (1-6-1, 0-1-0).
In the most lopsided win for the program since Rutgers defeated West Virginia, 8-0, on Sept. 16, 2001, the Knights dominated in every aspect on the pitch.
Winning a game by a scoreline more fitting for a Saturday afternoon with the Rutgers football team at High Point Solutions Stadium left head coach Dan Donigan with a mixture of remorse and satisfaction.
“How can you not be happy about it?” Donigan said. “At the end of the day, you play the game hard for 90 minutes, but you just never want to have a scoreline like that. … They caught us on a tough night. Everything that should go our way, went our way. So, you feel bad about that, but at the same time, we’ll take it.”
With Loyola limping into Piscataway from a rough start to the season, Rutgers took full advantage.
Unlike the match with Spartans on Friday, the Knights did not sit back and defend after taking the lead. Instead, Rutgers continued to pressure its visitors, not allowing them a shot until the 23rd minute when Griffin Kutzner’s header flashed wide of David Greczek’s goal.
The Knights killed any hope of a Greyhound resurgence coming out of the half.
Sophomore forward Jason Wright contributed two of his team’s six second-half goals after a frustrating first half where he saw all six of his shots either get blocked or go wide.
“I was kind of frustrated having those chances early in the game and not capitalizing on them, but after I just relaxed and put it behind me and that was a good decision from me to just let that pass and let it continue and know it’s a new half,” Wright said “Fortunately for me, I had two (goals) and I’m happy for that.”
Wright missed a penalty between his first and second goal, but he won’t allow it to bring down his confidence.
“That’s all in the game. You score some, you miss some,” Wright said. “You just have to accept it and move on and, like I said, I got two and the team won 8-nil, a pretty handsome victory. It's nothing to linger on, it’s just a penalty … (missing it) won’t do anything to my confidence.”
JP Correa was the main protagonist in the Rutgers win, contributing to half of the goals the Knights scored on the night.
The fifth-year senior opened the scoring for Rutgers in the seventh minute after intercepting a poor pass in Loyola’s final third and curling a shot past Tyler Beaudoin for his second goal on the season.
Correa was again present in the Knights’ second goal of the night, running down the left flank and whipping in a cross that found the head of a wide-open Miles Hackett. The sophomore forward buried his header past Beaudoin to double Rutgers’ lead and add to his goal tally, which is now up to five in eight games, equalling Wright for most on the team.
The next two goals were also assisted by Correa. First finding Wright and then Erik Sa, he completed his hat-trick of assists just before the hour mark.
Content with his production on the field, Correa gives all the glory to his team.
“Oh, yeah, definitely,” Correa said. “A goal and three assists, how can you not be satisfied? But at the end of the day, it’s all about the win, that’s all I’m happy for. It was a team effort. We moved the ball well, everyone’s trying to play. It was a good effort. My teammates helped me out a lot.”
Leading, 6-0, with 25 minutes remaining, Donigan gave some of his players who don’t usually play significant minutes a chance to prove their worth in a live game situation.
And they delivered.
“It gives those kids a chance to be confident about what they bring to the table and it gives us more confidence to put them in the situations where we know what they’re capable of doing,” Donigan said. “Everybody, pretty much, that normally doesn’t get a lot of time and came in and got some minutes tonight, I thought really proved some value and that’s really gonna help them down the road as we move forward and it’s gonna make us a deeper team.”
With Big Ten rival Penn State traveling to the Banks this weekend, the latest emphatic win could provide a boost of momentum for the Knights.
“(The win was) very important," Donigan said. "You want to build off as much confidence and momentum as possible heading into a conference game at home against Penn State.”
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