Spotlight Knight: Jørgen Wisth Lie
The major theme of the 2019 Rutgers men’s soccer team's season has been the rise of several freshmen into important roles, as the No. 24 Scarlet Knights propelled themselves to their first 5-0 start in 26 years.
One of those early contributors has been Norwegian true freshman midfielder Jørgen Wisth Lie, who has played every minute of every game this season. He’s made his mark on the box score, scoring decisive penalty kick goals against Temple (1-3) and Drexel (1-3-1) to earn the first two wins of the year.
Much like other international Rutgers players, like true freshman goalkeeper Oren Asher, Lie spent much of his development in a professional academy environment. Before coming to the Banks, he played with the youth academy Rosenborg SK, one of Norway’s powerhouse teams.
He worked his way up to the under-19 team, where he played with Rosenborg in the UEFA Youth League against the top youth clubs in Europe. It was there that he faced future European stars every game, like Manchester United's Marcus Rashford.
As if that weren’t enough, he also had the experience of playing for his father, Rosenborg youth head coach Torbjørn Lie. His father boasts an impressive resume, having led Rosenborg to four national youth titles while in charge. Head coach Jim McElderry cited this background as a big part of why Jørgen Wisth Lie is able to contribute right away.
“He is a coach's son and has a very good soccer pedigree playing at the highest levels of youth soccer in Norway,” McElderry said.
Lie’s background adds a unique and valuable skill set to the Knights. While he has 2 goals to his name, the main element of his play style has been the way he reads the game in the midfield.
Much of his impact comes from the mental side of the game. He’s always finding himself in the position to make a critical interception or find the right pass and get the attack going.
"Jørgen is good technically, reads the game well and competes physically. He will be a great addition to our program," McElderry said.
His soccer IQ and defensive instincts have played a big part in Rutgers' early run. In their first five games, the Knights relied heavily on keeping a strong defensive shape and disrupting the opposition through a heavy midfield press — both of which rely heavily on Jørgen Wisth Lie’s skill set to execute successfully.
With the season now almost a month underway, Jørgen Wisth Lie has cemented himself as a key player for Rutgers as it gears up for a rough Big Ten slate. The team's early success will be tested as the Knights face perennial powerhouses like Indiana (3-0-1) and Maryland (3-2) down the stretch.
If Rutgers is going to continue its run of success against tougher opponents, it'll have to rely on seasoned play from unseasoned players.
It looks like one of them might be a coach's son from Norway.
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