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Rutgers drops home Big Ten match to Ohio State

When the Rutgers men's soccer team kicked off its first season under new head coach Jim McElderry, it expected some growing pains.

After their best eight-game start in 24 years, the Scarlet Knights (6-3-2, 0-3-1) finally hit a wall with the start of conference play. They are winless through four Big Ten games, with the latest a 1-0 defeat against Ohio State at Yurcak Field.

Rutgers had plenty of opportunities to get the go-ahead goal, with the best chance of the first half coming in the 20th minute. Sophomore midfielder Valentino Ambrosio’s initial attempt was saved by the Buckeyes' (6-4-1, 1-2-1) Parker Siegfried. On the follow-up, sophomore midfielder Pablo Avila connected with true freshman midfielder Jackson Temple at the edge of the six, but Siegfried again came to the rescue.

Neither side would really threaten until the second half, when Ohio State really began to challenge the Knights' backline. In the 68th minute, Avila sent a cross to true freshman defender Hugo Le Guennec that just missed the right post.

The Buckeyes got their goal in the 71st minute. Off a corner kick, their own Samuel Buzzas’ header found the right corner to beat true freshman goalkeeper Oren Asher.

Right after the goal, Asher was involved in a studs-up collision that left him with a leg injury. He was subbed out of the game for junior goalkeeper James Teal, who was making his second relief appearance of the year.

Ohio State almost doubled its lead just 6 minutes later. The Buckeyes' Joe Ortiz was one-on-one with Teal, and his chip shot would’ve fallen into the net if not for junior defender Vincent Borden, who slid just in front of the goal line to deny the second goal.

Rutgers would have one final opportunity to equalize in the 89th minute, as senior defender Jake Longo’s initial header was saved and Avila’s follow up shot was wide of the right post.

It was a difficult loss for the Knights, who controlled the run of play and outshot Ohio State 12-10.

"I think it's been the story of the last couple of weeks,” McElderry said. “I thought for long stretches we played quite well and we created some really good chances today."

For Rutgers, the lack of clinical finishing down the stretch gave a window for the Buckeyes to steal a goal against the run of play and walk away with the win.

"I thought we battled well, the game was physical, but it all came down to a set piece,” said sophomore defender Thomas DeVizio. “They scored on it, we didn't and that was the game."

The Knights now have four days to regroup and get ready for a home matchup with Wisconsin on Friday. With an 0-3-1 conference record, it’s a clear must-win if Rutgers looks to stay competitive in the Big Ten this year.

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

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