Rutgers looks to bounce back from loss, host Hartford on Saturday
Following one of the most lopsided losses in its recent history, the Rutgers men's soccer team looks to get back on track this weekend.
The Scarlet Knights (1-3) host Hartford (0-3-1) tomorrow night at Yurcak Field in Piscataway. It’s the first time since 2010 that they will face the Hawks — that match resulted in a 2-1 overtime victory for Rutgers.
The Knights are coming off an 8-1 loss at the hands of Elon last Sunday, in a game that saw the most goals allowed and highest losing margin in more than a decade for the team, as well as the removal of a goalkeeper who spent every minute of last season patrolling the net.
After losing three games and tying in one game, Hartford is coming off a 5-10-3 season last year and hasn’t had a winning season since 2014. Most recently the team lost 2-1 to Niagara in double overtime on Monday.
The Hawks feature the talents of Swedish sophomore forward Rasmus Karlsson, who earned America East All-Rookie honors last season. He was tied for second on the team in goals and added one assist in 15 appearances.
Rutgers counters with offensive playmakers of its own. Leading the team with 2 goals in four games is junior forward Jordan Hall.
Hall, who transferred from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC), scored the lone goal in the loss to the Phoenix, and also scored during a 3-2 loss to UMBC last Monday. Hall scored 57 goals in his two All-American years at MGCCC.
Rounding out the Knights goalscorers so far are junior forward Brian Hawkins, sophomore forward Miles Franklyn and sophomore midfielder Kyle Galloway, who all have 1 goal apiece. They will try to lead the team this year, since it lost its top two scorers from last season.
Like Hartford, Rutgers has sophomores who were honored by their conference for their play during their first year in college.
Sophomore defenders Vincent Borden and Bryce Washington were both named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team last year, and helped solidify the Knights’ back line, while also scoring 1 goal each. Fellow sophomore defender Zeno Mazzucato was named to the Preseason All-Big Ten team, as well.
In goal, Rutgers is led by senior co-captain and goalkeeper Rafael Pereira, who played every minute of every game last year and led the Big Ten with 97 saves. His goalkeeping streak came to an end on Sunday, as he gave up seven goals and was pulled after 60 minutes for junior goalkeeper Joe Bruno, who made his first appearance as a Knight after transferring from Lafayette.
Rutgers also has veteran presences with NCAA Tournament experience leading the team. Hawkins and fifth-year senior forward Miles Hackett combined for 9 goals and six assists back in 2015, leading the Knights to the second round of the tournament in what remains its only appearance since joining the Big Ten.
After the loss to Elon, head coach Dan Donigan acknowledged that a game like that has the potential to demoralize a team, but his players must regroup and figure out how to solve the problems that led to such a loss.
“There's no reason we shouldn't be able to bounce back Saturday night,” he said.
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