Rutgers falls to Michigan in Big Ten opener over weekend
After the Rutgers men's soccer team drew a stalemate match against Hartford last weekend, a possible win heading into the 2018 Big Ten season could have been a momentum booster. The Scarlet Knights (1-4-1, 0-1) had plenty of offensive chances, but Michigan (5-1,1-0) gave Rutgers its first conference loss in 2-0 fashion.
The first half was a quiet one for both teams, until the 29th minute, when Wolverine Robbie Mertz’s shot went wide of senior goalkeeper Rafael Pereira. Michigan held a narrow 3-2 shot advantage after the first half but ultimately managed to outshoot the Knights 10-5.
Umar Farouk Osman drilled 2 goals for the Wolverines in the second half — 4 minutes apart from each other — for the forward’s third and fourth goals of the season.
Mohammed Zakyi found a cutting Osman from 20 yards out on a transition play for the first goal of the game. His second scoring chance came off a throw that deflected off of a Rutgers player.
Michigan controlled the ball for the first half, but the Knights had some scoring opportunities. In the final minutes of the first half, junior forward Brian Hawkins split a shot between two Wolverine defenders, but it hit the far post. Hawkins also led several offensive plays for Rutgers.
The Knights had multiple chances late in the second half to put a point on the scoreboard. Junior forward Jordan Hall’s only shot of the game came from a surge in the 70th minute from Hawkins, but soared high over Michigan goalkeeper Henry Mashburn. He earned his fourth shutout of the season without making a single save all match.
“We could’ve done a better job (on our end) to keep the match tighter,” said head coach Dan Donigan. “That’s the parody of the Big Ten. The margin of error is so small in this conference and across the country.”
A positive for Rutgers in the match was the return of sophomore defender Bryce Washington. Washington was sidelined for three matches due to a hamstring injury.
A member of the Big Ten All-Freshman Team last season, the defender set up a free kick and defended his man well in the game.
“It felt good to be back on the field,” Washington said after the match. “It felt good to help the team anyway I can. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win.”
Pereira made two saves during the match. One of those saves came within the first 10 minutes of the second half. The captain dove to stop a shot from the Wolverines' Jackson Ragen, following a header from Daniel Mukuna.
The Knights return to the home pitch for a non conference match against Marist (1-4-1) on Tuesday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m. The Red Foxes are following a 1-1 stalemate against then-No. 12 Fordham. Marist’s last win was two weeks ago against then-No. 17 Pacific.
“There’s still some things we have to do a better job of,” Donigan said looking ahead to Tuesday’s match.
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