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Hall's PK gives Rutgers 1st home win of season prior to Lafayette matchup

Not only is Rutgers men's soccer team's junior forward Jordan Hall the Big Ten’s leading scorer, but he has also been one of the best in drilling game-winning goals all season. 

After Northwestern tied Friday's match midway through the second half, the Manchester, England native drilled a penalty kick in the 88th minute, his 10th goal of the season, to give the Scarlet Knights (3-9-1, 2-4-0) their first Yurcak Field win of the season, in come-from-behind fashion against the Wildcats (4-6-4, 0-4-2).

“I was frustrated in the first half,” Hall said. “I told myself a chance was going to come and it came with 2 minutes left.”

Both teams started the match with limited offensive opportunities. Northwestern put early pressure on Rutgers in the first 10 minutes of the match, taking four shots against senior goalkeeper Rafael Pereira. 

The Knights put up six shots, including a shot off freshman defender Thomas DeVizio’s corner kick. DeVizio also broke up several Wildcat offensive surges, including a slide tackle on forward Ty Seager that gave Rutgers an odd man rush.

The 1st goal of the match would take 73 minutes, and it was the Knights who put the first points on the scoreboard.

In his fourth straight start, sophomore forward Brendan Wall drilled a shot past Northwestern’s goalkeeper Miha Miskovic off an assist from Hall, for his 1st career collegiate goal. Wall finished the match with a season-high three shots.

It would only take the Wildcats 6 minutes to tie the match. Midfielder Matt Moderwell found the back of the net, from 6 yards out, off an endline-feed from midfielder Tommy Katsiyiannis. 

Rutgers finished with 14 shots, compared to Northwestern's 16. The two teams traded shots in the last 10 minutes of the second half, with the Knights’ best opportunity coming off two shots from junior forward Brian Hawkins, who had three shots the entire match off quality offensive looks.

Hall earned his second penalty kick opportunity of the season in the 88th minute, as a result of a handball called against the Wildcats in the box. He got the ball past the Northwestern goalkeeper for his second penalty kick goal of the season — he scored the first penalty kick against Hartford during the first week of classes.

Pereira was a force behind the pipes for Rutgers. The Lisbon, Portugal native and captain made five saves in the match, two more than Miskovic. Pereira currently leads the Big Ten with 49 saves.

Junior defender Jake Longo made his second start of the season and played the majority of the match. Although he was not present on the stat sheet, the Scotch Plains, N.J. native played a stellar defensive game. 

Fifth-year senior forward Miles Hackett returned to the Knights’ starting 11, after being ineligible to play in the last match against Howard as a result of totaling five yellow cards on the season. The Montclair, N.J. native had one shot and was active on starting transition plays. 

“That game was a huge win,” said head coach Dan Donigan. “This puts us in a very good spot in the conference.”

Rutgers tightened up its defense in the second half. 

The Wildcats could not convert on four corner kicks in the second half, a testament to the Knights’ set-piece defense. 

“Our game plan was to get the ball down the wings,” Wall said on his 1st career goal. “For my goal, I took the defender in the center of the field, cut back and got a shot off.”

Rutgers will look to carry its momentum into tonight’s match against Lafayette, in the second-to-last non-conference match on the schedule. 

The Leopards (5-4-3, 1-2-2) defeated in-state rival Lehigh 1-0 on Saturday. Midfielder Chris Gomez converted on a penalty kick in the 48th minute for the match’s only score and finished the match with two shots, each on goal. 

The two teams finished with seven shots apiece. 

Against the Mountain Hawks, goalkeeper Alex Sutton made four saves, compared to his counterpart’s one save, for his fifth shutout of the season. Lafaytte’s netminder denied the Patriot League’s top scorer, Lehigh’s Mark Forrest, a chance for the game’s 1st goal in the first half.

“The more points we can get week-to-week, the better position it puts us in," Donigan said.

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

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