The Rutgers men's soccer team has added a host of student-athletes to supplement the roster, filling gaps to create a more well-rounded and experienced line-up. After facing their fair share of ups and downs last year, the Scarlet Knights could impact the Big Ten in the coming season.
Though it started off the 2019 season with a record of 5-0, Rutgers went on to lose 7 of the next 10 games, a stretch that included a four-game losing streak to close the season.
Afterward, the team was quickly eliminated in the National Collegiate Athletic Association men's soccer tournament, losing by a goal to Ohio State in the first round. Second-year head men's soccer coach Jim McElderry has many new student-athletes to try to combat this inconsistency, hoping to solidify the roster for a deep tournament run this year.
The first group of recruits was announced in April, headlined by junior forward Ritchie Barry, who transferred to the Banks after a season at St. Joseph's College New York.
In his time there, Barry played as a forward and was chosen for the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team after being ranked No. 10 all-time with 23 points in a season. As a junior, he brings experience to the other four newcomers in that group, all of whom are true freshmen.
The group also features true freshman forward Colin Beasley, a 6-foot-2 striker who netted 33 goals and tallied 23 assists in three years in high school and was also selected to consecutive Cape-Atlantic League All-Star First Teams. Additionally, it includes true freshman Darin Henry, a versatile midfielder and defender, who plays the entire pitch to generate both offense and defense.
The group is rounded out by true freshmen defenders Fredrik Holmé and Cole Sotack, both of whom played at the highest level of club soccer in their respective leagues, with the latter starting 56 games in 67 appearances.
"We will add to this group in the coming months, but could not be more happy about these five young men," McElderry said.
In late June, McElderry released news of the signing of three international recruits, adding true freshmen defenders Iker Alvarado of Mexico and Habeen Jun of South Korea and forward Ola Maeland of Norway.
Alvarado has experience playing at an high level. He comes after a season on the backline of the Youth Mexican National Team, having traveled to Japan and Portugal to train with top players.
An all-around forward and striker, Maeland played with a professional club team in a Norwegian league and now comes to the Knights as a new recruit.
Jun is a midfielder and defender who can play multiple positions and recently helped his Korean club earn a bronze medal in a national tournament.
Each of the recruits had similar remarks about Rutgers, praising the school's academics and athletics. "Rutgers has a great academic reputation and they play in the Big Ten, which is a great place for me to develop as a player," Maeland said.
This past week, news broke of a new pair of international recruits who could further help the team. This includes true freshman forward Moussa Sabaly, who played for a top soccer academy in his home country of Senegal.
Also featured is Max Wahlman, a true freshman center back from Sweden who scored 8 goals in his high school career and is recently coming off a clean sheet in his first start for his club.
Though their previous season ended negatively, the Knights had started last year with the best start to a season since 1985 and had reached national rankings for the first time since 2016. The team hopes to build on that former success.
"Our staff is constantly looking to improve our team and program through recruiting good people and good players," McElderry said. "We are confident this group addresses some needs on our team both in terms of position and experience."
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