The Rutgers men’s soccer team looks to build on its best program start since 1985 when it returns to Big Ten action with its conference game against Wisconsin on Friday night at Yurcak Field.
The Scarlet Knights (7-0-1, 1-0-0) had their biggest win of the season in their conference opener last Friday, defeating No. 11 Indiana 2-1. They followed up on that win by grinding out a 1-0 victory over UPenn on Monday night.
In addition to its win over the Hoosiers, Rutgers has a 7-0-1 non-conference record, with its lone draw of the season coming in double overtime against Temple back in late August. The Knights have allowed just 0.50 goals per game, with junior goalkeeper Oren Asher earning back-to-back Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors to start the season.
Rutgers has seen eight different players find the back of the net in the opening eight games of the season, with freshman Nico Rosamilia leading the team in scoring with 3 goals. Senior midfielder Pablo Avila and junior midfielder Jackson Temple sit right behind him with 2 goals each. Senior defender Thomas DeVizio and sophomore forward Ola Maeland each lead the team with four assists apiece.
“I think what’s most impressive to me is their mentality,” said head coach Jim McElderry. “These games are tough to close out — there’s tough moments, you’ve got to block shots, you’ve got to do the dirty work, and they’re happy to do it and different guys are stepping up every game to win games.”
For the Knights, one challenge has been navigating a congested early schedule, which has seen the team play Friday-Monday splits with just two days of rest.
“It was a tough weekend, playing at Indiana on Friday and the flight home on Saturday,” McElderry said. “And that’s just college soccer, you’ve got to deal with it.”
The Badgers (2-2-3, 0-0-1) are unbeaten in their last three games, opening their Big Ten slate with a double-overtime 1-1 draw against Michigan State last Friday night. Wisconsin started off the season with two draws and two losses, including an upset loss to Green Bay.
For the Badgers, scoring goals has been a challenge with the team only finding the back of the net 5 times in their first 7 games. Defensively, they are 1 of 3 Big Ten teams to allow less than a goal per game, with Carter Abbott currently the second best keeper in the conference with a 0.49 goals-against average and two shutouts.
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