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Rutgers falls to Maryland for 2nd straight Big Ten

It’s been a rude awakening to life in the Big Ten.

That’s the story for the Rutgers men’s soccer team, who lost 3-1 last night against Maryland in College Park, Maryland. After going their first eight games without a defeat, the Scarlet Knights (6-2-2, 0-2-1) now find themselves reeling from back-to-back conference losses.

The Terrapins (5-3-1, 1-1-1) threatened from the opening whistle, forcing true freshman goalkeeper Oren Asher to make two saves in the first 10 minutes. Maryland would dominate the run of play, limiting scoring opportunities for Rutgers. 

The Knights wouldn’t register their first shot on goal until the 24th minute, when junior defender Vincent Borden’s shot towards the left post was saved by the Terrapins' Niklas Neumann.

Borden’s opportunity ended up being the only shot on target for Rutgers in the first half, as the game would remain scoreless at the break.

Maryland would draw first blood early in the second half, when its own Eric Matzelevich’s shot from the right flank of the box took a deflection and found the back of the net. 

Seven minutes later, the Knights found their equalizer. Sophomore defender Nick Cruz lofted a cross into the 18-yard box. Sophomore midfielder Pablo Avila got on the end of it, and made it 1-1 with a clinical finish. It was Avila’s third goal of the year, and it got Rutgers level with the national champions.

The lead didn’t last long. In the 77th minute, a Terrapins throw-in found the head of their own Nick Richardson, who found teammate Fola Adetola on the far post. Adetola squared it for teammate David Kovacic, who slotted the ball past Asher for the go-ahead goal.

Maryland would add on to its lead in the 85th minute, when its own Chris Rindov nodded the ball to the feet of Kovacic, and he capitalized for the third goal of the game. 

The Knights were dominated throughout the game, being outshot by a 17-7 margin. Despite giving a career-high three goals, Asher still came up with five saves against the Terrapins.

"Again tonight we played well in stretches and we were able to score a great goal to tie up the match,” said head coach Jim McElderry. “A few lapses in concentration and we come out in the losing end, (but) we are competing hard and the effort is there.”

With a two-game losing streak, Rutgers will likely fall out of the top 25 rankings. It'll have a chance to regroup on Sunday, when it hosts Ohio State in search of its first Big Ten win of the season.

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

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