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Hall, Hackett lead Rutgers to 2nd straight win

After narrowly defeating Northwestern last Friday night, the Rutgers men’s soccer team added to its win column with a dominant 4-1 showing against Lafayette Tuesday evening.

Fifth-year senior forward Miles Hackett and junior forward Jordan Hall collected 2 goals each, as the Scarlet Knights (4-9-1, 2-4-0) picked up their second consecutive win against the Leopards (5-5-3, 1-2-2), in Easton, Pa. 

Lafayette started the first half with a high intensity offense. The Patriot League school was awarded two corner kicks in the opening minutes of the match with each shot being deflected out of bounds.

The Leopards netted the first goal in the 17th minute. Midfielder Ryan Goncalves landed a mid-air shot past senior goalkeeper Rafael Pereira off a throw in from 18 yards out of the box.

Two minutes later Hall scored his first goal of the night on his third penalty kick of the season. He netted a penalty shot for Friday evening’s game winner and has converted on all three attempts this season.

Hackett gave the Knights the lead right before the two teams headed to the locker rooms at halftime. As time winded down, Hackett broke through Lafayette’s defense close to the box and drilled a shot past goalkeeper Jack Cisneros. 

At the half, Rutgers maintained a 7-5 shots advantage and had four corner kick shots.

Hall and Hackett added padding to the Knights’ lead in the second half. The two forwards scored less than a minute apart from one another.

The Englishman buried a free kick from 25 yards out to give Rutgers a 2-goal advantage. Hall’s 2 goals were his 12th goal of the season, giving him a 3-goal advantage as the Big Ten’s top scorer. 

Hall’s 3 goals in the last two matches brings his point total to a Big Ten-leading 26 points, averaging over one and a half per match. He also leads the conference in shots (46). 

Hackett would put the exclamation mark on the Knights’ lead shortly after his teammate’s goal. He capitalized on a Leopards’ turnover and got a 6-yard shot past Cisneros. 

“I was very happy that our guys were able to maintain their composure and match the energy from Lafayette,” said head coach Dan Donigan. “It was very high energy and helter-skelter kind of soccer at times.”

Helter-skelter is one way to characterize Tuesday night’s match between Rutgers and Lafayette. The Knights played many set piece plays throughout the match, notably throw-ins and possessions near their opponent’s box. 

Rutgers and its Patriot League opponent finished with 10 shots apiece with six shots on goal. Hackett contributed a game-high four shots in his 2 goal performance, his most shot attempts in a match all season.

“It’s a little stressful when you don’t get a goal after a long period of time,” Hackett said. “So, hopefully this will kick start a good thread of goals for me.”

Offensively, the Leopards were led by midfielders Goncalves and Will Echeverria. They amounted for half of Lafayette’s shots with all of Goncalves’ shots on goal.

Pereira tallied four saves, while his counterpart made two saves in a strong Knights win. 

The Lisbon, Portugal native was replaced by junior Joe Bruno in the 80th minute. Bruno played his freshman year with the Leopards and made one save against his former team. 

Sophomore forward Brendan Wall continued his consistent offensive play against Lafayette. Starting in his fifth consecutive match, he put up two shots and logged 73 minutes. 

Junior defender Jake Longo made his second straight start for Rutgers. 

The Knights return to Yurcak Field on Friday, Oct 19, as No. 2 Indiana visits for an evening kickoff at 7 p.m. The match will be Rutgers’ annual senior night, marking the seniors’ last home match on the Banks. 

The Hoosiers (12-2, 5-0) were the 2017 national champion runner-ups, losing to then-No. 9 Stanford in double overtime last December. 

On Tuesday night, Indiana shutout in-state rival Butler, 3-0. The Hoosiers outshot the Bulldogs 14-11 in a match that featured more corner kick opportunities for their Big East opponent.

"We have a few days where we can get healthy before taking on Indiana,” Donigan said. “Certainly, we're going to need everything we can put together against a top team in the country."

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

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