Rutgers opens weekend with 2-1 victory
The Rutgers men’s soccer team continued its bright start to the season by defeating Colgate, 2-1, improving to 2-0 for the second consecutive season.
The game-winning goal was scored just 46 seconds into the second half by JP Correa. The fifth-year forward found space and buried what his head coach described as a “beautiful goal” into the back of the net.
“It’s a good feeling, good way to start the season” Correa said. “You always want score your first game, get it out of the way, that first goal.”
After a bruised rib kept him on the sidelines for the Scarlet Knights’ season opener against Siena, the forward was delighted to be back on the pitch with his teammates.
“It’s great, it’s great (to be playing again),” Correa said. “I wasn’t physically ready (for Siena), so I didn’t want to play that game and re-injure myself and be in the same boat for this week. … Wish I could've played in the first game against Siena, but it’s a good feeling.”
Head coach Dan Donigan was quick to praise Correa for his performance and what he brought to the team.
“JP looked really good. One of his better games since he’s been here to be honest,” Donigan said. “He relieved a lot of pressure for us. He was able to hold the ball up, he was able to fight for himself and take defenders on and create a lot of problems for Colgate, which created a lot of quality chances for us.”
The match did not begin as well as it ended for the Knights.
Five minutes into the contest, a mistake in the back allowed Colgate to recover the ball in the Knights’ defensive third and take an early 1-0 lead at home.
Donigan saw the early deficit as good preparation for the long season ahead.
“It’s what we’ve been looking for,” Donigan said. “This group needs to be able to get through good times and bad times, difficult times when you’re down a goal and be able to pull together as a group and fight your way back into the match … as a group to come away with a positive result and they did that. To be able to do that this early in the season, it’s going to hopefully help us as we continue on through the season."
Despite the early deficit, Rutgers was not shaken and continued to impose its style of play on the match. It took just 13 minutes for the Knights to equalize through Miles Hackett. The sophomore forward scored for the second consecutive game, this time being assisted by Jason Wright.
Hackett was content with the team’s performance and happy to contribute to the win and his team’s ambitious goals.
“It’s a good start,” he said of his goal. “Hopefully I can get momentum and keep scoring goals to help the team. Every goal counts, every goal helps us get closer to our main goal, which is hopefully a National Championship.”
Defeating Colgate (0-1-1) set the stage for Sunday night, where the Knights will have a second shot as they travel to upstate New York to face Syracuse.
Having begun last season 2-0, Rutgers was unable to defeat Syracuse and start its season 3-0 for the first time since 1996, falling 1-0 to the Orange at Yurcak Field.
With a deceiving record of 2-1-0, Syracuse received 25 votes in this week’s NSCAA National Rankings. The Knights have a heavy hitting opponent ahead of them, but having played the Orange last season relieves a bit of the pressure.
“We played them last year, we know what they’re about,” Correa said. “They’re a very good team, they’re ranked. It’s going to be a great soccer game.”
Donigan hopes his team is able to play at a high intensity after playing just two days prior, but believes the win against Colgate was important to give Rutgers confidence.
“It was important,” Donigan said of the win. “We hope we can rebound well enough to give a good performance against a good team tomorrow.”
For updates on the Rutgers men’s soccer team, follow @briannnnf and @TargumSports on Twitter.