Knights end season in tournament-qualifying round loss
The Rutgers men’s soccer ended its season over this past weekend, falling in the qualifying round of the 2017 Big Ten Tournament.
The Scarlet Knights end the season 4-13-1 with an 0-8-0 conference record in the regular season, after losing their second straight match against Northwestern (7-11-0, 1-7-0) on Saturday. The Wildcats stormed out the gates and took a 3-0 lead over Rutgers, who could not complete a comeback, ultimately falling 3-2 and ending its long and rough season.
Northwestern handled the Knights easily earlier this season as well, crushing Rutgers 3-0 at home and securing its first conference victory of the season. The Knights are the only team in the Big Ten this season that did not capture a conference win, something they have not done since the 2015 season.
Rutgers got the ball rolling pretty quickly after the starting whistles, with senior defender Niel Guzman getting off the game’s first shot, which was subsequently blocked.
The Wildcats got on the board first in the 33rd minute, when midfielder Tommy Katsiyiannis put a crossed ball from the left side into the back of the net, giving Northwestern a 1-0 lead.
The Knights outshot the Wildcats 12-4 in the first half but somehow went into the locker room at halftime down 1-0.
Northwestern came out for the second half and got started right where it left off, scoring the second goal of the game in the 49th minute, off the foot of forward Mac Mazzola. Fellow forward Ty Seager passed the ball down the left flank, where Mazzola proceeded to finish and give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead.
About 15 minutes later, Katsiyiannis scored his second goal of the game off an assist from midfielder Sean Lynch, giving Northwestern a commanding 3-0 lead and waking up Rutgers.
Just 30 seconds after Katsiyiannis’s second goal, Guzman scored the first goal of the game for the Knights, off an assist from junior midfielder Thomas Dovell, cutting the Wildcats lead to 3-1.
Rutgers could clearly see a comeback within reach, as senior forward Ryan Peterson scored his fourth goal of the season off an assist from senior midfielder Erik Sa, putting the Knights within just one goal of the Wildcats in the 79th minute.
Peterson got off Rutgers’ only shot in the remaining 11 minutes the team had to complete its comeback, but his shot went too high and missed. The 90th minute brought the match ending whistles, and the Knights second straight turmoil-filled season was finally over.
Rutgers outshot Northwestern 18-14 but lost the shots on goal battle 9-7. Junior goalkeeper Rafael Pereira ended his first season on the Banks with another six-save performance, but it was not enough to keep the Knights' season alive.
The Wildcats moved on to face top seed Michigan, hosts of the 2017 Big Ten Tournament, on Sunday at noon.
Peterson ends the season as the leader of the Rutgers stat sheet, combining his 4 goals and single assist to get him 9 points on the season. Sa is right behind him with 8 points off 3 goals and two assists.
The Knights will need to regroup over the offseason and plan ahead to try and improve immensely from this season, a task that will be harder to do as nine seniors bid farewell to the program.
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