Rutgers nabs 1st win of season in high-scoring affair at Oral Roberts

After losing three of its first four games including exhibitions, the Rutgers men’s soccer team got its first regular season win of the new season last weekend. This win already matches the team's win total from last season, when the Scarlet Knights were just 1-14-2 for the year.

Rutgers (1-2-0) defeated Oral Roberts University (1-1-1) this past Friday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for its first win of the season. The Knights handled itself well in the 5-3 victory.

“We all don’t even want to look back at last year and just move forward from it,” said head coach Dan Donigan. “We know it was a very unique circumstance with all the injuries and personnel problems we had last year. We have put that well behind us.”

The game kicked off at 7 p.m. at the Case Soccer Complex, with junior Rafael Pereira protecting the goal for Rutgers. The Lisbon, Portugal native played all 90 minutes and racked up six saves, while allowing 3 goals from the Golden Eagles.

Freshman defender Vincent Borden put the first goal in the net for the Knights when he put a header past the goalie, off a cross from the left side from fifth-year senior forward Ethan Vanacore-Decker to give Rutgers a 1-0 lead at the 10:41 mark.

“It’s the players and teammates keeping the passing service good,” Vanacore-Decker said. “I got good opportunities with my foot or head getting anybody to score.”

The Knights took its first multi-goal lead of the game 15 minutes later when senior defender Niel Guzman scored on an unassisted 18-yard shot from the left side.

The Golden Eagles scored their first goal of the game with 40:35 on the clock, after recovering a kick out by Rutgers and shooting from 20 yards out.

The second half became a testy affair on both sides of the ball, as both teams received multiple yellow cards from the 50-minute mark on. Nine yellow cards were doled out over the course of the last 40 minutes, just three for the Knights, but six for Oral Roberts.

Ten minutes into the second half, the Golden Eagles scored again and tied the game at 2-2 with a header off of a free kick, leaving Rutgers scrambling to regain control of the game.

The score remained tied up for nearly 20 minutes, until the Knights went on a tear, scoring 3 unanswered goals and never looking back. At the 72-minute mark, senior midfield forward Dante Perez scored an unassisted goal 25-yards out from the center, giving back the lead to Rutgers at 3-2.

Perez then set up Vanacore-Decker with his first goal of the game and a 4-2 lead for the Knights. Perez passed into the middle of the box off a header, where Vanacore-Decker put the ball in from the center with less than eight minutes remaining.

“We battled some adversities, were tied at the half, managed to score a couple more goals and ended up winning it,” Vanacore-Decker said.

A little over two minutes later, Vanacore-Decker put the game away with his second goal of the game off an assist from junior forward Miles Hackett. Hackett crossed the ball into the middle of the box, where Vanacore-Decker proceeded to put the ball into the back of the net.

Oral Roberts put in its final fight attempt by adding another goal off a penalty kick, but it was too little, too late for the Golden Eagles as they couldn’t dig themselves out of the hole.

“Friday night we played a very difficult Oral Roberts team,” Donigan said. “They’ve got a lot of very good and creative players, but we were able to bounce back from that first weekend and had a very good outing on Friday, coming away with the 5-3 result.”

Rutgers played its second game of the weekend this past Wednesday against UMKC, and ultimately tied with the Kangaroos, 0-0, after two overtimes periods.

“Overall, we had a really good weekend after facing two really good teams,” Pereira said.

For updates on the Rutgers men's soccer team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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