Rutgers returns to non-conference play
The Rutgers men’s soccer team returns to non-conference action tonight as it heads to Connecticut for a matchup against Hartford.
The Scarlet Knights (7-3-2, 1-3-1) come into this match fresh off their first conference win of the season, a 3-0 shutout against Wisconsin at Yurcak Field last Friday evening, in what was a late scoring game.
“We told the guys at halftime to keep doing what they were doing. We thought we were controlling most of the game,” said head coach Jim McElderry. “We had some chances in the first half and just didn’t convert them."
Rutgers didn’t get on the scoreboard until the 65th minute, when senior defender Jake Longo fired a shot that found the back of the net, off a feed from junior midfielder Kyle Galloway.
Longo has played more as a traditional defense-minded backfielder. As one of the seniors on the team, he has stepped up to lead offensive surges.
“I thought they were doing the right things and if we could be a hair more patient, we could get more chances,” McElderry said. “After the first goal, we had to try to keep passing the ball, that’s what this team is built on right now. Sitting in and defending for that period of time was just too long. We wanted to keep playing and earn a couple more chances and then it turns you can get that second goal.
True freshman goalkeeper Oren Asher, in his first season on the Banks, has adjusted to an American style of playing soccer. The Israel native has played in 12 games while compiling a 6-3 record. He has a 1.19 goals against average, as well.
This non-conference match could prove to be a challenging one. The Hawks (7-2-3) bring in a 10-game unbeaten streak. This match will be their fourth one aty their home field, the Al-Marzook Athletic Fields at Alumni Stadium.
Hartford enters this match with a win over Stony Brook under its belt. In a match where both teams took nine shots, the Hawks tallied a late goal with 5 minutes remaining in the match.
Hartford's Nick Benjamin netted the lone goal for the Hawks, who took home a 1-0 win over the Seawolves. It was Benjamin’s first career goal.
Hartford's Jimmy Slayton recorded his seventh shutout of the season, marching his career number of clean sheets.
For the Knights to pressure Slayton, they will have to rely on their attacking front.
Sophomore midfielder Pablo Ávila has stepped up as one of the tenacious plauyer on the team. He leads Rutgers with 5 goals on the season, scoring the second goal of its win over the Badgers last weekend.
Ávila also has two assists and 12 points on the season, leading the team in the points category.
Aside from Ávila, the rest of the Knights’ midfield unit has played an offensive-minded game. True freshman midfielder Jackson Temple ranks second, right behind Avila with 4 goals on the season. Temple hasn’t scored since Sept. 24 against Saint Peter’s. He has 8 points in his first year on the Banks.
As a team, Rutgers has scored 16 goals on the season, averaging 1.33 per game. The Knights have allowed opposing offenses a .469 shots percentage.
Rutgers averaged 10.7 shots per game while allowing opponents to 10.8 shots per game.
The Knights will have one more non-conference match in the middle of the Big Ten slate. Rutgers will head to Lehigh on Oct. 29.
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