On the same day it found out it had reentered the Top Drawer Soccer Top 25 at No. 12 in the country, the Rutgers men’s soccer team extended its unbeaten streak to eight games with a 1-0 win over UPenn at Yurcak Field this evening.
The Scarlet Knights (7-0-1, 1-0-0) got their game-winning goal in the 59th minute when a pass from from senior defender Thomas DeVizio found junior midfielder Anthony O’Donnell, who finished the cross to score his first goal of the season.
“(This game) was a must-win for us,” DeVizio said after the win. “We grinded it out and we got the W and I’m happy for (O’Donnell) to get the goal and it was good … Grinded out last 10 minutes, and (we’ve) got to defend to win games — and that’s what we did.”
It took a while for either side to create abundant opportunities, but Rutgers was able to apply the pressure late in the first half. While the Knights remained scoreless after 45 minutes, they had the 4-1 advantage in shots.
“I think that as the half wore on, we just got more into it,” said head men's soccer coach Jim McElderry. “I thought we grew into the game and I thought we started the second half really well, so I was happy with that.”
Rutgers continued that sustained pressure well into the second half, eventually turning into the O’Donnell goal, which started when freshman midfielder Matthew Acosta laid it off on the right side for DeVizio to deliver the cross, earning him his fourth assist of the season.
“I thought we’ve been close a couple of times on that similar type of free kick and it's just about attacking the ball,” McElderry said. “I thought (Acosta) did a good job of just thinking quickly and then (DeVizio) getting his foot around it and giving (O’Donnell) a chance … at one point, I didn’t think he was gonna get there and he just got up and got his head on it.”
In the final 3 minutes of play, the Quakers (3-2-1, 0-0-0) got two last-ditch opportunities to equalize. First, a pass into the box was deflected to Nick Schimbeno, who fired it just wide of the near post. A minute later, he got another shot from the top of the box that hit the side netting.
The win puts Rutgers at an eight-game winning streak on the season and keeps the team unbeaten as it heads into the thick of Big Ten play. The Knights resume action on Friday night, as they will take on Wisconsin at Yurcak Field.
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