Sophomore forward's hat trick ignites Rutgers in offensive outburst
When facing non-conference opposition, many Power Five conference teams underestimate their opponents, sometimes leading to surprising upsets that shock the nation.
While it did seem to underestimate its visitors at times Tuesday night, the Rutgers men’s soccer team did not let itself become a victim to the upset.
A hat trick from sophomore forward Jason Wright and two goals from senior forward JP Correa propelled the Scarlet Knights (5-4-1, 1-3-0) to a 5-2 win over Yale (1-8, 0-1) to improve to 4-1-1 against non-conference opponents this season.
While satisfied with the win, head coach Dan Donigan showed frustration in the complacency his team showed throughout the match.
Donigan said his team became too comfortable in the lead, allowing the Bulldogs to score twice.
“A win’s a win. We did some good things and we did somethings that were kind of dictated due to the score of the game,” Donigan said. “Lack of communication, lack of intensity … that led to stupid little mistakes or breakdowns that, in other games, could be a big problem for us. It’s just a bit of … immaturity, irresponsibility. That’s what that was. But we’ll take the win.”
With the blaring negative of passivity from the home side being a concern for Donigan, there were many good things that could be pulled from the Knights win.
Wright’s third and final goal raised his goal tally for the season to 10, pushing him past Michigan’s Francis Atuahene for most goals in the Big Ten. The Jamaican U-23 international is proud of his accomplishment, but he is also conscious that the season is far from over.
“It’s a working process all the time,” Wright said. “We’re halfway (through) the season and right now, this is my first hat trick for Rutgers and I’m grateful for it, but even more grateful for the win and I’m looking forward to keep going on a positive note.”
The Kingston, Jamaica, native opened the scoring in the ninth minute, and the Knights never looked back.
The sophomore forward received a pass from Erik Sa and proceeded to nutmeg his marker before rifling a lovely shot into the top right corner of Kees Schipper’s goal.
While his first goal was appealing to the eye, his second goal was a work of art. After receiving a low cross from senior midfielder Mitchell Taintor, Wright flicked the ball into the empty net with his right heel.
“The ball was played behind me and I was so close to the goal and I didn’t want to turn or take anymore time, so I just back-heeled it,” Wright said. “It was just a natural instinct for me.”
Cracking a smile while describing the goal, Wright was happy to score with style.
“Maybe a mix (between being practical and flashy), because I was like, ‘Alright, go for it, lets see how this goes,’” Wright said.
In between Wright’s second and third goals, JP Correa added his name to the scoresheet.
The Montville, New Jersey, native has scored three goals and assisted three others in the past three games, but the only three he’s wanted to see in that run of games wasn’t achieved.
“If we were 3-0 (in the past three games), I’d be happy,” Correa said.
While the Knights’ attack returned to the form it showed in the 8-0 thrashing of Loyola (Md.) last Tuesday, the defense was unable to do the same.
A shaky performance from Rutgers forced David Greczek to be called to action multiple times, and the junior goalkeeper responded. The Fairfield, New Jersey, native made five saves on the night, including two saves in the opening 45 minutes that left the 314 in attendance with their jaws on the floor.
Content with his netminder’s performance, Donigan felt there were some things Greczek could’ve done better.
“He was okay,” Donigan said. “I’m not a goalkeeper coach … but there’s times where I think he could distribute the ball quicker and not just sit with the ball or he could get it out the weak side and we can begin our attack. There’s always things I nit-pick on. But I’m not a great evaluator of goalkeepers.”
Heading to Ann Arbor to face the top team in the Big Ten this weekend, the Knights will reassess and attempt to fix the mistakes they made against Yale.
“Just continue to train and talk about it," Donigan said. "Maybe watch a little bit of the film to show these guys where they get complacent and where they don’t take care of those kinds of situations. All we can really do is beat them with a stick about it.”
For updates on the Rutgers men’s soccer team, follow @briannnnf and @TargumSports on Twitter.