Rutgers unable to come back against Columbia, falls 2-1
After trailing by 2 goals midway through the first half against Columbia, the Rutgers men’s soccer team was unable to claw its way back to take the lead Tuesday evening.
The Scarlet Knights (4-11-1, 2-5) dropped their second straight match, a 2-1 decision against the Lions (7-4-1), in Manhattan, N.Y.
Columbia jumped onto the scoreboard in the first 5 minutes. Forward Matthew Swain fired a left-footed shot past senior goalkeeper Rafael Pereira off a cross from defender Nike Azuma for the 1st goal of the match.
The Lions would add to their lead 10 minutes later. After crosses from Swain and midfielder Beto Carrillo shifted possession to the center of their opponent’s box, forward Kynan Rocks headed a close 6-yard shot past Pereira.
Rutgers’ offense started the match playing on the backs of its heels, as scoring chances were limited in the first 20 minutes of the match.
The Knights would finally find the back end of the net in the 39th minute. Junior forward Jordan Hall netted his 13th goal of the season, after junior forward Brian Hawkins sent a long pass to the Big Ten’s leading goal scorer.
Hall’s goal was the team’s second shot attempt of the night. He led the match with six shots, two of which were on goal.
Neither team was able to come out of the locker room with a goal, but Rutgers had the better scoring opportunities in the next 45 minutes.
In the first 10 minutes of the second half, the Knights had several opportunities for an equalizer. Hall sent a pass to fifth-year senior forward Miles Hackett on the right post side of Columbia’s goalkeeper Dylan Castanheira, but he made the save.
Several minutes earlier, sophomore midfielder Kyle Galloway took Rutgers’ lone corner kick of the match. Hall attempted a shot, off the corner, that was blocked by Castanheira.
The Knights’ subs were highly involved in the offense. Sophomore midfielder Vincenzo Pugliese had a season-high two shots, with one on target.
Junior defender Jake Longo made his fourth straight appearance in the starting 11, and had the team’s first shot in the 9th minute, a header that went wide. Longo provided quality defense against the Lions. He blocked defender Brendan Dennis’s shot in the 72nd minute and made various clears.
As the match slipped away from Rutgers in the final 10 minutes, sophomore forward Brendan Wall had a shot with 4 minutes left, but it was saved by Castanheira. He had two shots and earned his seventh straight start.
“After 1 goal, we’re feeling pretty good about it,” said head coach Dan Donigan. “There were certainly not enough quality chances to get the tying goal back in the second half.”
The Knights outshot the Lions 10-4 in the second half, ultimately having the shots advantage over the Ivy League school, 12-7.
With his six shots against Columbia, Hall is now Big Ten’s leader in shots, with 55, and is averaging approximately 3.5 per game.
“Despite the fact that we scored in the first half, I think we were better in the second half,” Hall said. “We got off to a slow start and got into a sticky situation, but we played a lot better after that.”
Pereira logged three saves, one less than his counterpart. He came out of the net to stop midfielder Vittorio Luzio in the 55th minute.
Rutgers closes out its Big Ten regular season schedule on Sunday Oct. 28, at Penn State (5-8-2, 2-3-2).
With the Nittany Lions’ loss in double overtime to Maryland Tuesday evening, the Knights could enter the Big Ten Tournament as either a six, seven or eight seed.
Penn State fell to the Terrapins in double overtime, 3-2, in College Park, Md. Midfielders Aaron Molloy and Noah Pilato scored the 2 goals for the Lions, but forward Paul Bin scored the golden goal with 4 minutes left in the second overtime for Maryland.
A win in University Park, Pa. would secure a No. 6 seed for Rutgers, who currently sits as the No. 7 seed with 6 points.
“Right now we want to control our own destiny with a win on Sunday,” Donigan said. “This gives us a great opportunity to jump ahead of Penn State in the conference standings.”
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