The Rutgers men’s soccer team extended its unbeaten streak to five games on Friday night, defeating Lehigh in a come-from-behind 3-2 victory at Yurcak Field.
The Scarlet Knights (4-0-1, 0-0-0) took the lead in the 39th minute when senior midfielder Pablo Avila sent a cross in from the right side of the 18-yard box that missed everyone but trickled into the far post. It was the second goal of the season for Avila, and it sent Rutgers into halftime up 1-0.
The Mountain Hawks (0-4-0, 0-0-0) equalized early in the second half, as a corner kick in the 49th minute bounced around the box before being put past junior goalkeeper Oren Asher by Josh Luchini. It was the first goal allowed by Asher all season following a four-game shutout streak to open the year.
Lehigh scored a go-ahead goal in the 63rd minute when Stevo Bednarsky played a cross into the box that was deflected by freshman defender Joey Zalinsky into the back of the net — marking the first time all season that the Knights had trailed in a game.
“I knew the second half was going to be tough,” said Rutgers men's soccer head coach Jim McElderry following the game. “Their first goal was a good one, but we were lax on the second goal, which was disappointing.”
The Knights found a second goal to equalize in the 68th minute, as a cross from senior defender Thomas DeVizio was powered home by senior forward Ritchie Barry. The equalizer was the first goal of the year for Barry, who led Rutgers in scoring with 4 goals in the spring season. DeVizio also collected two assists on the game.
Twelve minutes later, the Knights reclaimed the lead when graduate student defender Vincent Borden headed a cross from DeVizio into the back of the net from the edge of the 18. The 80th-minute goal ended up as the match-winner for Rutgers and was the first goal for Borden since a win over Penn State in March.
“I'm proud of the group for refocusing, pushing, and continuing to play the right way, which got us the result tonight,” McElderry said.
Despite the close margin on the scoreboard, most of the attacking opportunities came from the Knights. Rutgers outshot Lehigh by a 22 to 7 margin, with a decisive 10 to 1 advantage in shots on goal.
The Knights will return to the pitch today as they continue another Friday-Monday split with a matchup with Saint Joseph’s. After that, they’ll kick off their Big Ten slate against Indiana, the defending Big Ten champion, in Bloomington, Indiana.
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