September 19, 2019 | 47° F

Rutgers looks to get back on track at Yurcak Field

Photo by The Daily Targum |

The Rutgers men’s soccer team will host Loyola on Tuesday night, hoping to get back into the win column. The Scarlet Knights (3-3-1, 1-2-0) suffered a 3-1 loss to Michigan State in their last time out.

Two early goals from the Spartans buried the Knights into a hole they could not get out of. Rutgers put up a fight and managed to pull back a goal early in the first half, but the effort was not enough.

Head coach Dan Donigan anticipated a strong start from Michigan State, a team looking to recover from the 4-0 thrashing it suffered against No. 14 Notre Dame before heading to Piscataway, and believes his team was not ready for the ferocious few kickoff minutes from the visitors.

“This is college soccer and these are young players and you gotta make sure that guys are mentally focused and physically ready to do what you gotta do when that whistle blows at the start of a match," Donigan said, "especially against a team like a Michigan State that’s coming off a disappointing loss against Notre Dame at home."

Perhaps his next sentiments summed it up best.

“It’s like a wounded animal. They could be very dangerous," he continued. "Me, personally, I knew they were going to come out here and play a tough game tonight and we just weren’t ready for them in those first five minutes. It’s disappointing.”

Disappointment was an evident feeling for Donigan’s troops, but they claim it will not allow this loss to take away their motivation to work hard.

“Honestly, it was disappointing,” said sophomore forward Miles Hackett. “Thought we fought hard ... we just gotta keep it going in the next few games. (We) can’t let it get us down. (We) just gotta keep practicing hard, put in effort and we’ll be good.”

Junior goalkeeper David Greczek, who moved into a tie for fourth place all-time in saves for Rutgers’ after making five stops against the Spartans, felt like the final result was fair and the Knights have to go back to the drawing board in training.

“Yeah, it was fair,” Greczek said. “Like I said, (the) first five minutes killed us and we tried to bounce back. But, I mean, there was some fight but we just have to get back to practice on Sunday and fight.”

Rutgers will have a great opportunity to bounce back against Loyola.

The Greyhounds (1-5-1, 0-1-0) come to the Banks limping from a difficult start to the season. 

Loyola has failed to score in all but two contests — a consolation goal in a 5-1 loss to Duke and the only goal in its only win over UMBC, 1-0. The Greyhounds have been outshot in every match they’ve played, painting a picture of a team that tends to sit back and spend little time in their opponents’ final third.

The first matchup between the two sides since 1994 will be an opportunity for Loyola to win its first game against the Knights, who have dominated the matchup. After a 0-0 deadlock in the first ever game between the teams, Rutgers won the following two matches by the same score of 3-1.

With a team that it has historically dominated coming to town, the Knights will have a great opportunity to get back to playing as well as they did in the couple of games before their meeting with Michigan State.

While much of the talk is about what is and isn’t being done on the field, Donigan spots a side of preparation many people don’t think about.

“A lot of it is just psychological preparation, to be honest with you,” Donigan said. “These guys have still a lot of reason to feel good about themselves. They still, for the most part this season, have performed and played pretty well. Even tonight, there were good portions of the game where I thought we played really well. We just have to hang our hats on that and feed off of that.”

With the strong displays his team has shown prior to its loss to the Spartans, Donigan has little worries headed into Tuesday night.

“I’m pretty confident that this team will bounce back for (tonight) against Loyola,” he said.

For updates on the Rutgers men’s soccer team, follow @briannnnf and @TargumSports on Twitter.

Brian Fonseca

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