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Rutgers captures 1st conference win of season against Wisconsin

The drought is finally over.

After going through four Big Ten games without a win, the Rutgers men's soccer team got back in the win column, dispatching Wisconsin at Yurcak Field on Friday thanks to a dominant second-half performance.

The first half was more of what we've seen throughout the Scarlet Knights' (7-3-2, 1-3-1) Big Ten matchups this season: Despite controlling the run of play, the ball couldn't find the back of the net and the game went into halftime scoreless.

Fifteen minutes into the second half, Rutgers got its breakthrough. Off a deflected cross from sophomore midfielder Pablo Ávila, junior midfielder Kyle Galloway delivered the ball into the 18. Senior defender Jake Longo controlled it and slotted it home for his first career goal.

“I ended up taking it down and honestly, it was a little bit of a heavy touch,” Longo said. “But, I ended up getting there before the keeper and I put it through his legs and there it was.”

The Knights stayed in control after taking the lead, and were rewarded with a second goal in the closing minutes. Galloway’s initial attempt was blocked at the right post, and sophomore midfielder Nick Cruz played it across for Avila's header in the 87th minute. 

The score gave Rutgers a much-needed insurance goal, and was the fifth of the year for Avila.

“After the first goal, we had to try to keep passing the ball, that's what this team is built on right now,” said head coach Jim McElderry. “We wanted to keep playing and earn a couple more chances and then it turns you can get that second goal."

But the fun wasn't over yet for the Knights. In the final minute of play, Avila found some space down the left flank. With the Badgers' (2-9-1, 0-3-1) Dean Cowdroy closing in, he squared the ball for junior forward Brendan Wall, who converted the tap in to seal a big win for Rutgers.

“We had some chances in the first half and just didn't convert them,” McElderry said. “I thought they were doing the right things and if we could be a hair more patient, we could get more chances.”

It's a much-needed boost for the Knights, who had cooled off after a historic eight-game unbeaten streak to start the year. With a Big Ten win finally under its belt, the team can enjoy a boost in morale as it get set for a four-game road trip.

“We had a little fire in our belly to come out and get this win,” Longo said. “We really needed it."

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

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