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Rutgers men's soccer set to begin its season against Michigan

The Rutgers men's soccer team opens their 2021 season with a matchup in Michigan against Michigan State. – Photo by Rutger's Men's Soccer

After approximately a year and a half of not playing a competitive match of soccer, the Rutgers men’s soccer team will be back on the field. The Scarlet Knights will travel to Michigan to take on Michigan State at 1 p.m. today.

This game is the first of ten scheduled matchups with other Big Ten foes for Rutgers. The last time the Knights played an official match was on Nov. 9, 2019, versus Ohio State in the first round of the Big Ten Championships where the Buckeyes walked away with a 1-0 win. Since then, the Rutgers soccer team has seen some changes to its roster and future of the program.

Over the long pause due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), head men's soccer coach Jim McElderry and his staff have bought in 12 new players, who come from various parts of the country and the world. The 12 new additions are joining another group of 14 veterans.

The Knights' returning players include sophomore midfielder Jackson Temple and junior midfielder Pablo Ávila, both of whom will help propel the offense this spring. In 2019, Temple had 5 goals, and Ávila had 6 goals. On the defensive end, senior defender Vincent Borden, alongside sophomore defender Hugo Le Guennec, will lead the backline.

“We feel a lot farther down the road than we were in 2019,” McElderry said.

Rutgers has been training during the Fall 2020 semester. At the start of this year, the Big Ten announced a schedule, where the preseason started abruptly.

During the off-season, the team was granted the Miller Family Locker Room, a new state-of-the-art facility. The locker room sits within the Gary and Barbara Rodkin Academic Success Center on Busch campus.

After being nationally ranked in the 2019 season, fans can look forward to the team's return. The Knights will play the Spartans and then return back to Piscataway for a home matchup against cross-state rivals Penn State.

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

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