Rutgers hosts 5th ranked opponent in 7 games in No. 4 Indiana
For the fifth time in seven games, the Rutgers men’s soccer team will face a top-20 team.
No. 4 Indiana (4-0-3) will travel to Yurcak Field Friday to take on a stagnant Scarlet Knights (0-6-0) that just hasn’t been able to stay consistent.
Junior forward Dante Perez believes that his team can compete if they are able to keep the game close early.
“I think keeping the game (close), even the first couple of minutes, is very important for us,” Perez said. “Because chances come from that and our mentalities will stay high.”
The Knights have lost to No. 12 Creighton, No. 8 Denver, No. 5 Charlotte, No. 22 Michigan State, No. 1 Maryland and Ohio State in their first six games, scoring just 2 goals in the span compared to their opponent’s 17.
If senior keeper David Greczek steps up to the plate like he did against No. 1 Maryland, making 10 saves — then Rutgers may have a chance.
Out of the 108 shots that Indiana has attempted this season, only nine have gone in net.
But they haven’t played anywhere close to the schedule that the Knights have played in, and no one has, according to head coach Dan Donigan.
“We do have the toughest schedule in the country,” Donigan said. “From what I’m seeing and reading.”
Something the Knights haven’t been able do this season is score goals.
And with Friday’s game against No. 3 Indiana, things wont get any easier.
The Hosiers sport the seventh best team goals-against-average in the country, with goalkeeper Colin Webb owning an astronomical .39 GAA.
Putting one in net has been difficult for Rutgers, but if they can work on getting their flank play rolling and keeping the passing fluent, chances may come sooner then later.
“I think we just need to work on connecting with the midfield on the backs to the forwards,” said junior defender Neil Guzman. “Getting flank play without Miles and Hawkins, we don’t really have that speed on the outside like we did last year. But if we keep the ball on the ground and keep passing to each other, we'll have an opportunity to create chances.”
But facing a top keeper in the country doesn’t faze Donigan’s squad. Facing so many ranked teams already — no team can scare away Rutgers.
“Just the mindset and the mentality,” Donigan said explaining why his team won’t give in to their dreadful start. “To not give in, to not be demoralized and I don’t believe we are. I think these guys will respond — we’re at home against the No. 3 team in the country. You can think to last year when we went out there and had a pretty convincing victory but every year every team is different.”
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