Rutgers slips up against undefeated No. 13 MSU in Big Ten opener
Trying to capitalize on last weekend’s win and draw, the Rutgers men’s soccer team faced off against a Big Ten rival in its conference opener.
The Scarlet Knights (1-3-1, 0-1-0) couldn’t keep themselves out of the loss column this week, when they played against No. 13 Michigan State (5-0-0, 1-0-0) on Friday night at Yurcak Field. This was Rutgers' third game against a top-15 opponent in its first five games of the season.
The Knights and Spartans both had some trouble scoring early on, but eventually ended the game in a 2-1 finish in favor of Michigan State.
In attendance were 695 people to watch the two Big Ten titans match up in Piscataway, where junior goalkeeper Rafael Pereira picked up three saves off six total shots from the Spartans. Besides for the three saves for Pereira, two of the MSU shots made it into the net while the last shot was wide of the goal.
Once again, Rutgers came out of the gates as the aggressors on the field, taking a whopping nine shots in the first half alone, but still failing to put one in the back of the net. Michigan State took only three shots in the first half and couldn’t score either, keeping things tied, 0-0, after 45 minutes.
Nearly four minutes into the second half, Michigan State broke things open when forward DeJuan Jones scored a six-yard shot in the box off a pass from defender Michael Pimlott.
Then, less than 10 minutes later, Jones and Pimlott connected again for a goal-assist combination. Jones’ shot from seven yards out put the Spartans up 2-0 with 57:40 on the clock.
The Knights took six shots early on in the second half, trying to keep up with Michigan State, but nothing was clearing the goalie. Finally, senior forward Ryan Peterson was fouled inside the box, and was granted a penalty kick, which he put in the back of the net at the 81:36 mark.
Rutgers took three more shots in the last eight minutes, but couldn’t tie the game, losing for the third time in a row to the Spartans. Michigan State maintained its undefeated start to the season after the win on Friday night.
The Knights must try and figure out how to capitalize on the scoring chances they get. Rutgers out-shot the Spartans 19-6 over the course of the game, which is the largest gap in shots for the Knights this season. Michigan State’s goalkeeper stopped seven of those shots by Rutgers, giving them a lot to think about as the game stretched along.
Rutgers was the more physical team as well in this game, recording more fouls and yellow cards than the Spartans. The Knights were called for 14 fouls to Michigan State's 13, while receiving two yellow cards as well.
A positive that Rutgers can take out of this loss is the fact that its goal in the 82nd minute ended the Spartans' season opening four-game streak of shutouts. Michigan State went 441 minutes straight without allowing a goal to start its season.
The Knights will once again face a ranked opponent this week, when they travel down to College Park, Maryland where they will face the No. 5 Maryland Terrapins on Tuesday night.
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