In the first meeting of its historic in-state rivalry since 2017, the Rutgers men’s soccer team beat Princeton 1-0 on the road Friday night.
The only goal for the Scarlet Knights (2-0-1, 0-0-0) was scored in the 56th minute when a cross from sophomore defender Cole Sotack took a deflection and found the back of the net. While Rutgers was outshot by the Tigers (0-1-0, 0-0-0) by a 20-12 margin (7-4 in shots on goal), the second-half goal proved to be enough.
The game marked the return of junior midfielder and team captain Pablo Avila, who missed the first two games of the season due to an injury. Avila played 63 minutes in the win.
The Knights' junior goalkeeper Oren Asher — who earned his 10th career shutout in the win and already has a Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honor under his belt in 2021 — played a role in holding the 1-0 lead. He had seven saves on the night, three of which came in the second half and two of which came in the final 3 minutes of the game.
While he may already have a personal award under his belt, Asher views the team’s defensive success as a team effort.
“The whole team is doing a great job defending," Asher said after the game. "It starts in the midfield and the attackers coming back, as well.”
Rutgers' defenders did more than just keep a clean sheet — they also played a role in creating opportunities on the other side of the ball, as 3 of the Knights’ 4 shots on goal came from defenders. Graduate student defender Vincent Borden created the most opportunities with two shots on goal.
Rutgers' head men's soccer coach Jim McElderry emphasized the team’s collective performance in his postgame remarks, praising the effort Princeton gave in their first competitive match in two years.
“Princeton is a great team with great players that caused some problems for us,” McElderry said. “It was a battle and we want to be known as a team that's tough to play, and I think we lived up to that tonight.”
The win extends the Knights’ unbeaten streak to three, and also marks the third straight shutout to open the season — marking the first time that the program has done so since the 1990 team that went to the NCAA championship game.
“Oren is a fantastic goalkeeper, but it really takes an entire team effort to get these shutouts," McElderry said.
Rutgers will look to extend both streaks to four games tomorrow night when it returns to Yurcak Field to host Mount St. Mary’s.
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