Misfortune strikes Rutgers again in 1-0 loss to Wisconsin
The scene in Madison, Wisconsin, Saturday was typical of a midwestern fall afternoon — gloomy, eerie, wet.
Just as familiar was the final result the Rutgers men's soccer team brought back to Piscataway from the Dan McClimon Memorial Soccer Complex, a 1-0 loss to the Badgers, its eighth on the season in nine matches.
All it took was a goal from sophomore defender Sam Brotherton to score in the 34th minute to solidify Wisconsin (5-2-1, 3-1-0) as winners.
If one were to look at the stat sheet after Saturday’s game, they would see almost identical numbers between both teams.
Both the Knights (0-8-1, 0-3-1) and Wisconsin had 13 shots apiece and 14 fouls each, and the hosts even made more three saves than Rutgers. But one thing the Badgers did that Rutgers didn't was seizing one of their opportunities.
And although the low scoring affair was won by Wisconsin, junior forward Dante Perez said he believes the team has put in the work and done the right things — they just haven't been rewarded.
“Honestly, at this point, I think it comes down to the luck,” Perez said. “(Junior centerback) Niel (Guzman) had a shot from the six that the kid made a great save off of that everyone was shocked at. But I don’t think it comes down to accomplishment because we’re working hard to get stuff done, we need some luck now.”
Guzman had Rutgers' best opportunity to get on the scoreboard late Saturday night.
In the 89th minute, Enda O’Neill deflected the ball away from Wisconsin’s net, which gave Guzman a shot from six yards out. The Bridgewater, New Jersey, native shot the ball in what looked like a sure goal, but Badgers keeper Philipp Schilling showed why he is second in the Big Ten in goals-against-average at .78, stopping the shot much to the relief of most in attendance.
The shot Guzman took was the only chance the Knights had to score in the second half as the Badgers controlling the pace of most of the first half and the majority of the second frame.
“Just frustrating, you feel like it’s just that year where we make one bad mistake and that gave them that chance, the only chance they really needed to win the game,” said head coach Dan Donigan. “It’s just not happening for us right now for whatever reason. You really can’t put a finger on it. You really can’t pinpoint any particular thing other then we’re just not catching the breaks that we would've caught last year or the year before.”
With Saturday’s loss, Rutgers is officially having its worst start since 1974, when the Knights started the season 1-7-1.
But in junior forward Ryan Peterson’s eyes, Saturday's contest was one of the better games the team has played this season. Although the Knights couldn’t put one in the back of the net, Peterson believes his team was just unfortunate.
“I thought we played very well as a team,” Peterson said. “We only messed up once and that was their fortunate time because that’s when they scored. Overall, we played very well. We moved the ball a lot better then we usually do, we were in it all the way to the end, we just couldn’t get fortunate to put one in the back of the net.”
This season is a bad dream the Knights just cannot awake from, but there is still hope.
Rutgers will host a struggling Michigan team this upcoming Friday at Yurcak Field.
But right now, the Knights seem to be getting no luck. No balls are rolling in their favor, the opposition is making the most of their mistakes and if the goals do not start coming along, the dreadful nightmare will continue as a frightening reality.
Donigan reflected on the game and gave comments on his team's struggling first half, but he also acknowledges that his team has been unlucky and understands that the way things are going, nothing is going their way.
“You can always look at it especially when you go back on tape. 'What if he did this or what if he did that,'” Donigan said. “Absolutely there are chances where you can look back at. Unfortunately, the way things are going for us right now, we walk away with a 1-0 loss.”
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