Rutgers ties Hartford on road

The Rutgers men's soccer team got off to a rough start on the road, but came back from 2-0 down to tie Hartford 2-2 on Tuesday night.

The Scarlet Knights (7-3-3, 1-3-1) controlled much of the first half, but conceded against the run of play in the 34th minute. After a failed clearance, the Hawks' (7-2-4, 2-0-1) Jovanté Etienne brought the ball down the right wing, and sent in a cross that was put home by teammate Tomer Drimmer at the top of the box. 

Drimmer’s finish would put Rutgers down a goal at the break, and things went bad to worse after the second half got underway.

Two minutes into the second half, Etienne collected a goal kick on the edge of the 18. With space to maneuver, he played a ball across the face of goal to find teammate Connor Aksoz at the edge of the six, doubling the Hartford's lead.

They wouldn’t stay down two goals for long, as the Knights struck back in the 49th minute. True freshman midfielder Jackson Temple delivered a cross from the right wing that was deflected by a defender. It found the feet of sophomore midfielder Pablo Ávila, who beat the keeper from point-blank range.

Temple almost had the equalizer in the 64th minute, when he had an opportunity from 10 yards out that was fired over the bar.

He redeemed himself 2 minutes later, when a cross from junior defender Brandon Golden's shot was deflected to the feet of true freshman midfielder Anthony O’Donnell. He found Temple outside the box, and he fired a rocket inside the right goalpost to tie it up at 2.

Both teams had their opportunities to take the lead, but neither Rutgers nor the Hawks could find a winner in regulation. The game would go into a double-overtime period, which was the second game this year in which the Knights went into extra time.

Hartford shelled Rutgers with six shots in the second period of overtime, but couldn’t seriously threaten true freshman goalkeeper Oren Asher. The best opportunity came in the 102nd minute, when the Hawks found the net off a rebound from a corner kick. The referees called a foul on the play, sealing the draw for the Knights.

After the game, head coach Jim McElderry praised the team for getting a result after facing adversity on the road.

"We challenged the guys at halftime to not only play well, but to fight for a result, and they responded well,” McElderry said. “To come back from down 2-0 is excellent.”

The draw preserves Rutgers' unbeaten record in non-conference play with just one non-Big Ten game to go.

For the Knights, the focus shifts to a road game at Northwestern on Sunday afternoon, where they’ll look for their second straight Big Ten win. With just four games left in the regular season, Rutgers could give themselves an outside shot at a top-four spot in the Big Ten Tournament. 

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

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