Knights stay atop division with win over Blue Demons
In the middle of its seven-game Big East stretch, the Rutgers men’s soccer team proved it could win at home last week, when it downed a pair of conference opponents.
The Scarlet Knights took to the road and notched their first road conference win of the season Saturday with a 1-0 win against DePaul.
“These are crucial points that we are getting with these wins, especially on the road against what we consider one of the toughest places to play,” said head coach Dan Donigan. “It was great. I’m proud of the effort.”
One early goal proved to be the only point the Knights needed to propel themselves past the Blue Demons. In only the ninth minute of the game, a fumbled ball by DePaul goalkeeper Eric Sorby bounced outside the box, where senior forward Ibrahim Kamara waited to capitalize for the goal.
“This was a great game to win because they had a lot of people out supporting them, and it was on the road and everything,” Kamara said. “We came out, and I got the only goal in the first half, and we were able to hold on to that one goal and eventually got those three [Big East] points.”
The game-winner marks only the second goal of the North Brunswick, N.J., native’s season, although he led the team in scoring each of the past two years.
“I’m not scoring that many goals this year because we have so many people around me who can score. My job so far has been to hold the ball and create space for them,” Kamara said. “As long as we keep on winning, I’m satisfied. It doesn’t matter if I’m scoring or if other people are scoring. As long as we are winning I’m happy.”
The early goal by the Knights sent DePaul into attack mode toward the latter half of the game. The Blue Devils outshot the Knights, 10-4, in the second half and led in corner kicks, 6-1.
“The first half was better than the second half, but that’s pretty typical when you get an early goal on the road,” Donigan said. “That’s when they start throwing extra numbers and take a little more chances on the attack. But you just have to kind of weather the storm and that was definitely the case.”
The Knights defense carried the team to the conference win, holding the Blue Devils scoreless for its first shutout of the year. The win also marked the first collegiate shutout for junior goalkeeper Kevin McMullen, who finished the game with two saves.
Donigan cited a combined effort from the entire backfield en route to the shutout win.
“It is always good to get the shutout, especially the first one of the season. It takes more than just Kevin to have a good game, even though he did make a couple of good saves,” Donigan said. “But [senior Andrew Cuevas], Joe Setchell, Dragan [Naumoski] and Paulie [Calafiore] really defended well. They got a lot of help from the midfield, as well. It starts up top and goes all the way back to the goalkeeper.”
The Knights face yet another quick turnaround as they return to Yurcak Field on Wednesday to face conference rival Syracuse.