Rutgers dominated by Penn State in Big Ten finale
Even with huge Big Ten Tournament implications on the line, the Rutgers men’s soccer team couldn’t capture its first conference win of the season over the weekend.
The Scarlet Knights (4-11-1, 0-8-0) hosted Penn State (3-9-2, 1-6-0) on Senior Day this past Sunday afternoon. The Nittany Lions showed they wanted it more than Rutgers did, easily defeating the Knights, 6-2 and claiming their first Big Ten win of the season.
“Anytime as a coach when you have to sit there and watch that, again we have to evaluate ourselves,” said head coach Dan Donigan. “Are we really, truly giving the effort we need to give in a game like this against a team like Penn State. It’s just totally unacceptable from my standpoint.”
With the tough loss, Rutgers is now winless in the Big Ten for the second year in a row, not securing a conference win since the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament in 2015.
Penn State opened things up immediately, driving down the field and scoring just a second after the first minute completed, taking a quick 1-0 lead and leaving the Knights scrambling. Lions defender Ryan Gallagher was assisted on his goal by forward Ethan Beckford.
In a fast effort to not let the match slip away from Rutgers, sophomore forward Brian Hawkins scored an unassisted goal in the 7th minute of the match, tying things up at one apiece. The goal was the first of the season for Hawkins.
“A 6-2 loss makes it hard to focus on any positives,” Hawkins said. “We’ve got to bounce back and the only way we’re are going to do that is by getting a win on Wednesday and then hopefully make a run in the Big Ten Tournament.”
Both teams took their time over the next 15 minutes, trying to keep one another at bay. But Penn State broke through the mold when defender Callum Pritchatt set up forward Aymar Sigue for the second goal of the match in the 29th minute.
The Lions held onto their 2-1 lead over the Knights going into the halftime locker rooms. Rutgers wishes it could have known what was to come in the second half so that they could have possibly prepared better.
Both teams started things off slowly out of halftime, with each team taking just one shot in the first 10 minutes. Then, the 60th minute happened.
Beckford scored twice in the same minute for Penn State. First, Beckford was fouled in the goalie box and then scored on a penalty kick. Then less than 20 seconds later, he scored an unassisted goal to break things open for the Lions at 4-1.
In the 66th minute, Penn State added another goal to its match total, putting the Knights in a rough 5-1 hole with time clicking by quickly.
“It was our senior day, playing against a team we feel we should beat. But, we came out and laid an egg so I’m not happy about it,” said senior midfielder Erik Sa, a huge voice for the team this season.
Sophomore midfield Tim McQuaid scored his first goal of the season in the 83rd minute, giving Rutgers some momentum off a pass from senior defender Brandon Tetro. Unfortunately, the Knights couldn’t hold on to the momentum for even a minute, giving up the sixth goal of the match in the 84th minute.
Junior goalkeeper Rafael Pereira tied his record of most goals allowed on Sunday with 6 while saving five shots as well. Pereira allowed 6 goals to then-No. 4 North Carolina in a match that saw Rutgers come up with just one goal for itself.
The Lions held on for the 6-2 victory at the horn, handing the Knights another loss in what has been another tough season. Although this season has been an improvement from last season’s one win total, it is still nothing to be satisfied with.
Rutgers can keep itself away from a dozen losses this season on Wednesday night, as Columbia comes to Piscataway for the final match of the regular season.
“I love this school, loved it for as long as I can remember,” Sa said. “Still got a little bit of time here, I’m going to miss playing on this field.”
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