Rutgers closes out perfect road trip
Just under 20 minutes into the Rutgers men’s soccer team’s matchup with Army, junior goalkeeper David Greczek collected a weak shot from the Black Knights and spotted a sight he was all too familiar with — sophomore forward Jason Wright calling for the ball downfield.
Greczek punted the ball in Wright’s direction. The ball bounced over both Wright and his defender's head and the Kingston, Jamaica, native streaked past his marker, leaving him one-on-one with Chris Britt. Wright calmly rounded the Army goalkeeper and buried his 12th goal of the season to open the scoring at Clinton Field.
Similar to the way Wright effortlessly breezed past his man to score his sixth goal in the past four games, the Scarlet Knights (9-4-1, 3-3-0) easily took care of Army (3-5-4, 1-1-2) in a 2-0 win that closed out a road trip where they won all four of their matches.
The final score was not indicative of what was produced on the field.
Rutgers controlled the match from start to finish. The Scarlet Knights outshot the Black Knights, 13-9 (6-2 in shots on goal), forcing Britt into making four tight saves.
Britt’s best save of the night came after some lovely offensive movement from the visitors. With the score at 1-0, freshman midfielder Sheldon McKoy received the ball and found an open sophomore forward Miles Hackett. Hackett had everything to double Rutgers’ lead but Britt made a jaw-dropping save to preserve the lead.
While the lead never felt threatened, a one-goal advantage is always dangerous.
But sometimes, circumstances force changes to be made.
Hackett felt ill toward the end of the first half and was taken out as a precaution, said head coach Dan Donigan.
Donigan placed his faith in his typical first options off the bench and it worked in his favor.
Freshman forward Brian Hawkins, who got a start in place of JP Correa, played sophomore midfielder Brandon Tetro through on goal with a perfectly weighted ball and the Freehold, New Jersey, native didn’t waste his chance. Tetro snuck a shot past Britt to double his team’s lead and practically guarantee the Knights’ second consecutive win over Army.
“It was great build up play,” Hawkins said. “We had back passes, chip passes, square passes and then Guzzie passed me the ball in midfield … I saw Brandon make a dashing cut and I just slipped the ball through and he finished it. It was really good build up play.”
Donigan spared no praises when describing his team’s second goal.
“The second goal was one of the best offensive sequences I’ve seen in my time at Rutgers,” he said.
Usually amid the first three subs made by Donigan this season, Tetro was thrilled to score his first goal of his career on the Banks.
“It’s great (to score my first career goal),” Tetro said. “There were games where I came close, hit the post a couple of times, so it’s good to finally put it in the net.”
Because of how well Rutgers played, aside from finding Wright for the first goal of the match, Greczek didn’t have much work to do, finishing the night with just two saves.
But the latter of the saves was phenomenal. Greczek saved a shot from point-blank range with five minutes remaining in the contest to preserve his third clean sheet in the past four games.
“Greczek made a huge save in the 72nd minute when the game was 2-0. It could’ve made it 2-1 but Greczek made an unbelievable save,” Donigan said.
The Knights recent form in the back is a massive improvement from the beginning of the season, when they only kept one clean sheet in their first 10 matches of the season.
With Big Ten leaders Ohio State coming to Piscataway this Sunday, Rutgers has its biggest challenge of the season looming in the distance. Currently in the best stretch of play of the season, Rutgers doesn’t lack confidence heading into the crucial matchup.
“The last couple of games, we’ve been playing extremely well, definitely the best we’ve been playing all season,” Hawkins said. “Everyone’s playing to their potential and as a team, we’re coming together at a right time and getting the job done. It’s definitely momentum going into (the Ohio State) game. We know how much it means going forward in the Big Ten.”
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