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Rutgers hosts No. 2 Indiana for senior night

The Rutgers men’s soccer team returns to Yurcak Field for its final home match of the season against No. 2 Indiana, Friday evening.

The Scarlet Knights (4-9-1, 2-4-0) face one of the top teams in the country in the Hoosiers (12-2, 5-0), in their annual senior night game, held prior to the regular season finale. The seniors will be honored with their families before kickoff at 7 p.m., the last time they will don the scarlet and white on the Banks. 

This year’s senior class includes goalkeeper Rafael Pereira, forward Miles Hackett, backfielder Alex Kaczynski, forward Kyle Goodwin, forward Thomas Dovell and goalkeeper Brian Shushkovsky.  

In the teams' most recent meeting last September on the road, Indiana netted 5 goals in a shutout victory for then-freshman goalkeeper Trey Muse. 

Last game, Pereira recorded four saves before being replaced by junior goalkeeper Joe Bruno, who tallied one save, in the Knights’ 4-1 win at Lafayette. The win was the team’s largest victory all season.

Goodwin has been a key substitute for Rutgers off the bench and started against Northwestern on Oct. 12. He started that match and forced a Wildcats turnover that resulted in sophomore forward Brendan Wall’s goal.  

In their last match on Tuesday evening, the Hoosiers manhandled their in-state rival, Butler, 3-0. Against in-state teams, they are 3-0, having defeated Notre Dame and Evansville earlier in the season.

They outshot their Big East opponent 14-11, with a plus-four advantage in shots on goal.

Forward Justin Rennicks’s goal gave Indiana an early lead in the first 5 minutes of the match. Defender Timmy Mehl added to the lead in the 22nd minute, heading in a four-yard shot past the Bulldogs’ goalkeeper Gabriel Gjergji. 

The Hoosiers are a team that spreads the ball around offensively. Midfielder Trevor Swartz is the key setup man the Knights will have to slow down. He leads the Big Ten Conference with 10 assists, collecting two against Butler. 

Swartz assisted on Mehl’s and Spencer Glass’ goals on Tuesday. He is averaging almost one assist per game.

As a team, Indiana sits atop the conference leaderboard in goals, points and assists. It has amassed 100 total points this season, maintaining a 15-point margin ahead of Michigan State. 

The Hoosiers are undefeated in five total conference matches, with contests against Michigan and Michigan State remaining after Friday’s matchup at Yurcak Field.

Indiana has won by both narrow and large margins, but the majority of its wins have been shutouts. 

The only two losses the Hoosiers have are to No. 5 Wake Forest and No. 4 Kentucky. In their first match of the season, the Demon Deacons defeated them in double overtime.

The Wildcats held Indiana scoreless, defeating it 3-0. The Big Ten school tallied one more shot than its SEC opponent. 

The Hoosiers face the difficult task of defending the speedy Jordan Hall in Friday’s contest. He is the conference leader in goals (12) and is averaging more than three shots per game. 

Hall also leads the conference with 26 points, 5 more than Indiana defender Andrew Gutman.

Gutman was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week for his 2-goal performance in the team’s 2-1 win over Maryland. He scored the game-winner with less than 20 seconds left in the match.

He also had a 2-goal performance in a 3-1 win over Wisconsin earlier in the season.  

The Knights and their next opponent are separated by 19 shots in the Big Ten’s total shots category. Midfielder Griffin Dorsey leads Indiana with 28 shot attempts, netting 4 goals. 

A key for a Rutgers win would be to attack netminder Muse early by spreading the ball among the midfielders and forwards. This was evident in their strong showing Tuesday, when the Knights had a 7-5 shots advantage in the first half. 

If Rutgers can pull off an upset over one of the top teams in the country, a win would help its seeding in the Big Ten Tournament. 

With two remaining matches after Indiana — against Columbia next Tuesday and Penn State on Oct. 28 — Rutgers looks to pick up several points to close out the season. 

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

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