July 21, 2019 | 83° F

Rutgers looks for win in conference opener

Photo by Jeffrey Gomez |

The Rutgers men’s soccer team looks to start the 2018 Big Ten campaign with a win, as it faces Michigan at home Friday night for a 8 p.m. kickoff. 

The Scarlet Knights (1-3-1) head into the match following a 2-2 double overtime stalemate against Hartford last weekend. In its last four matches, Rutgers has only mustered one win, on Aug. 31, against Mount. St Mary’s.

The Wolverines (4-1) come to the Banks following a 3-0 shutout win over Marquette, on Monday night in Ann Arbor, adding to Michigan's four-match winning streak. Sophomore goalkeeper Henry Mashburn earned his third clean sheet of the season, making just two saves. 

Midfielders sophomore Austin Swiech and senior Robbie Mertz scored the first 2 goals for the Wolverines in the first half. Swiech and Mertz put Michigan on the board just over a minute between the goals, at 12 minutes and 45 seconds and 13 minutes and 58 seconds, respectively. Forward Jack Hallahan would score in the 28th minute that ended the team’s explosive scoring efforts for the night.

Sophomore forward Mohammed Zakyi leads the Wolverines with seven points on 2 goals and three assists. The Ghana native has not scored since Michigan’s second match against South Florida, but he is more of a play setter, given his assist numbers. 

Last weekend’s match against Hartford was certainly a winnable game for the Knights as they outshot the Hawks 13-10. Junior forward Jordan Hall led the game with seven shots and drilled a penalty kick in the first half. Rutgers’ last goal was an own goal from Hartford, a result of an overcrowded goalkeeper’s box.

The Knights will have a few players back who did not play against Hartford. Head coach Dan Donigan hinted at the possible returns of sophomore defender and captain Bryce Washington, who was named to the 2017 Big Ten All-Freshman Team, and sophomore defender Vincent Borden. The Ithaca, New York native was also a member of the 2017 Big Ten All-Freshman Team. 

“That can be very impactful from a personnel standpoint,” Donigan said after the Hartford match on potentially getting Borden and Washington back. He also mentioned the possible return of sophomore defender Zeno Mazzucato.

A key player for Rutgers in its last match, though, was freshman defender Thomas DeVizio. DeVizio had two shots, both on goal, and took the majority of the team’s game-leading six corner kicks. 

The Knights rank fifth in the Big Ten in shots (54), and a key to a win over Michigan would be to outshoot the Wolverines early. Rutgers did so against Hartford but only managed one shot in the two overtime periods. 

Hall and DeVizio created efficient opportunities for the Knights who will have to see more of DeVizio, who excelled in the transition game. 

Last season at Michigan, Rutgers lost 3-1 in October. The Wolverines’ current senior midfielder and captain Ivo Cerda scored a goal in that match. This season, Cerda has 1 goal on eight shots.

For updates on the Rutgers men's soccer team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

Jake Schmied

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