Rutgers seeks first win of season in biggest test yet in No. 5 Maryland
When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
And for the Rutgers men’s soccer team, the going has gotten tough and tough must get going.
The Scarlet Knights have stumbled out to an 0-4 start this season and haven't scored a single goal in 360 minutes of action.
It’s been weeks that this offense has been trying to get on the scoreboard but there are still no results.
Tough opponents such as No. 14 Creighton, No. 11 Denver, No. 9 Charlotte and conference opponent Michigan State on the road have been the opponents keeping Rutgers in a hole that it has yet to escape.
But with Tuesday’s matchup with No. 5 Maryland approaching, the Knights hope to wipe the bad losses away and start over in the right direction with most of the season still left still to play.
“We just gotta get a lucky break here or there,” said head coach Dan Donigan. “And once we do get that positive result, things can maybe take off and turn in the other direction.”
The Terrapins (3-0-1) have defeated Hartford, a serious contender in Georgetown, USF and tied last Friday on the road against No. 4 Indiana, conceding just three goals in the four games.
But Donigan’s players realize who is coming onto their turf Tuesday, and they know this may be their best opponent all year so they are ready for a challenge, knowing full well what must be done.
“We’ll have a set plan and we’ll all get on the same page,” said junior centerback Neil Guzman. “I think that this might be the best team we play all year, and we need to realize that and defensively, we need to be organized the whole entire 90 minutes. Coming into that game, we’ll just keep our heads up high and have the passion and work ethic and we'll just figure it out”
Donigan accepts that his players are still young and learning, but he knows they know about the rigorous schedule they’ve played so far this season and isn't phased by their unattractive early season record.
“Look, they're college age kids, and you can say they're questioning themselves a little bit,” Donigan said. “But they also know that they play an incredible schedule, one of the toughest in the country. There’s still a lot of soccer to be played, and we need to realize that we're in this for the long haul. We're not in this just to have a pretty record in the early part of the season.”
The long haul seems like the right definition of his team’s schedule.
After Maryland, Rutgers plays away at Ohio State, hosts the Hoosiers and Florida Gulf Coast and then hits the road for Wisconsin.
Rutgers realizes a tighter game defensively is a must in order to equalize its record, and it knows a solid team can turn this around in a moment.
“We’re definitely going to rally together and be supportive of whoever,” said junior forward Ryan Peterson. "Going back to the training round, working hard and staying positive, its all about the key moments in games where we put our heads down and that’s when the other teams get on us that we have to control. 90 minutes, 90-plus minutes, we’re a great team, and we know that and we're just gonna stay together, and anything’s possible."
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