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Rutgers shut out at Penn State in regular season finale

The Rutgers men’s soccer team ended the 2018 regular season with a 2-0 loss to Penn State, on Sunday afternoon. 

The Scarlet Knights (4-12-1, 2-6) allowed a goal in each half, as they were shutout against the Nittany Lions (6-8-2, 3-3-2) in University Park, Pa.

Penn State had the game’s first chance right from the opening kickoff. Midfielder Callum Pritchatt was awarded two corner kicks in the first several minutes of the match.

The Lions would break open the scoring in the 15th minute. Pritchatt drilled a lefty-footed shot past senior goalkeeper Rafael Pereira from outside the box for his 1st goal of the season.

Junior forward Jordan Hall led a Rutgers offensive surge in the 28th and 29th minutes where he took two consecutive shots. Hall had a game-high four shots, two of which were on goal.

The Knights were awarded all four of their corner kicks in the first half. Freshman defender Thomas DeVizio, who they have used in set-piece plays, took his first attempt from the corner. 

Rutgers had more offensive chances in the first half, as it outshot the Lions 5-4 at halftime. The shots came off transition and set-piece plays.

Penn State started the second half with a string of shots. Pritchatt had two shots that went wide of Pereira. 

The Lions were awarded three attempts from the corner in the second half. Forward Ethan Beckford and midfielder Aaron Molloy took the corner kicks, which were cleared out of bounds by the Knights.

Beckford added an insurance goal for Penn State in the 63rd minute. A Manchester, England native like Hall, Beckford scored off a pass from midfielder Austin Maloney inside the box.

Rutgers had several opportunities in the second half to score. Hall had two shots in the 75th minute, with one soaring wide over the opposing goal and the other blocked by the Lions' defense.

The two teams played an aggressive match with the Knights tallying 13 fouls, one less than the home team. Hall was issued a yellow card in the first half.

Pritchatt contributed to Penn State's 10-9 shots advantage with three shots of his own, two of which were on target. 

“Against teams in the Big Ten, you can’t come out and have a slow start,“ said head coach Dan Donigan. “We had a lapse on the 1st goal and unfortunately, the 2nd goal was part of a broken play. Just those two mistakes were the difference of the game in 90 minutes.”

Sophomore defender Vincent Borden had his first multiple shot game in his sixth straight start against the Lions and led several offensive chances.

Sophomore midfielder Tyejae Burchall made his third consecutive start and played 67 minutes, his second highest time this season.

Fifth-year senior forward Miles Hackett, who has consistently contributed to Rutgers’ offense, had two shots in the loss. The Montclair, N.J. native played 69 minutes.

Pereira made two saves on nine shots in the loss, including a diving save in the 88th minute against defender Ryan Gallagher. His counterpart, goalkeeper Josh Levine, logged three saves. 

Sophomore midfielder Vincenzo Pugliese came off the bench and had one shot on goal. Although he played 21 minutes, Pugliese was still a key offensive player and defended his man well.

Sophomore forward Brendan Wall had one shot and finished the regular season with 13 attempts. He has been one of the team’s best in contributing quick shots offensively. 

“We couldn’t connect and get past their defense,” Wall said. “We were unable to find the back of the net in the second half, which is unfortunate. That’s what happens in soccer.”

The Knights will enter the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 7 seed and will play No. 2 seeded Wisconsin in a quarterfinals match on Sunday, Nov. 4, in Madison, Wis.

The Badgers (9-5-2, 6-2) defeated Ohio State in double overtime, 1-0, Sunday afternoon. Forward Andrew Akindele scored the golden goal for Wisconsin. 

Rutgers fell 4-2 against the Badgers earlier this season in a match where Hall scored twice.

“Everyone’s really excited to play against Wisconsin,” Wall said. “Going into this week of training, we’re going to be very focused because it’s our last chance to prove ourselves and make a run in the Big Ten Tournament.”

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

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