Rutgers earns first win in regular season finale
In a game where the Rutgers men’s soccer team trailed early and was tied up for some time and was outshot 22 to 11, the Scarlet Knights escaped Peoria, Illinois, with their first win of the season.
“It was our last chance to get the win that we’ve so badly been wanting,” said head coach Dan Donigan.
Rutgers (1-13-2, 0-6-2) continued its trend of allowing early goals by giving one up in the sixth minute. Bradley defender Falk Dennert gobbled up a loose ball on the edge of the box, shot it from 16 yards out and rifled it past senior goalkeeper David Greczek to give the Braves an early 1-0 lead.
Two minutes later, junior striker Jason Wright received a long pass from Greczek, kicking from 12 yards out past two defenders and evening the game up at a goal apiece.
Rutgers would continue to pressure the Braves, executing on long and short crosses looking to take its first lead of the game.
Success came for the Knights in the 20th minute when Wright scored his second goal of the contest on a free kick.
Three minutes into the second half, Bradley would make Saturday's game more tense than Rutgers would have liked. Freshman TJ Rea sent a diagonal cross to defender Donald Link, who then set up five yards out, striking it past Greczek and tying the game up at two.
The game would remain tied for less than a minute.
In the 49th minute, Wright, the Knights' leading scorer, would assist sophomore midfielder Thomas Dovell, who would blast the ball past senior goalkeeper Logan Ketterer, scoring his first career goal and handing Rutgers its first win of the season.
The valiant effort to close the game out after allowing 10 shots in the final 40 minutes gave Greczek something to finally to be proud of.
“First off, the whole team collided and we got the result, we finally got the win,” Greczek said. “I’m just happy that the boys and myself were able to stick it out for the whole 90 minutes. I mean, there were games where we came close to getting the result but tonight we finally closed it out.”
In a game where Rutgers was outshot 22-11, committed 20 fouls and had four less shots on goal, Wright explained what had to be done.
“We had to fight and push through, we kept fighting,” he said.
The Knights hope to carry some momentum into their play-in-game against Big Ten foe Michigan on Saturday. But one thing Donigan knows is that his group of guys haven’t given up – and won’t.
“I told my guys at the end of the game, ‘Look we’ve had a lot of ups and downs, we’ve had a lot of tough matches, tough breaks, tough bounces,'” Donigan said. “We’ve made our own share of mistakes that cost us games. The fact that the guys have never thrown in the towel and never bailed on us, I think it says a lot about the character and the group as a whole.”
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