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Rutgers men's soccer set to play Penn State

After two tough matches against Maryland and Wisconsin, the Rutgers men's soccer team looks to get back to winning when they face Penn State in Piscataway. – Photo by Benjamin Chelnitsky

After tying with No. 8 Maryland on the road last week, the Rutgers men’s soccer team looks to earn its first win in three games as it hosts Penn State at Yurcak Field tonight. 

The No. 24 Scarlet Knights (7-1-2, 1-1-1) have struggled to find the back of the net recently, failing to score in either of their previous two games. Rutgers remained in the top 25 in the most recent United Soccer Coaches’ poll following its draw with Maryland and loss to Wisconsin at home. Last week’s draw against Maryland was the first road point against a top 10 team since 2016.

The Knights have relied on a mixture of younger and more experienced players to score for them this season, with freshman forward Nico Rosamilia leading the team in scoring with 3 goals on the season, the most recent being the equalizer in the win over Indiana.

Senior midfielder Pablo Avila and junior midfielder Jackson Temple have each found the back of the net twice this season. From a chance-creation standpoint, sophomore forward Ola Maeland and senior defender Thomas DeVizio have four assists each to share the team lead.

Defensively, Rutgers has allowed just 3 goals in games against Big Ten opponents, with junior goalkeeper Oren Asher having allowed just 1 in his previous two appearances.

Asher missed the 2-0 defeat to Wisconsin due to a non-coronavirus disease (COVID-19) illness before returning last Tuesday. On the season, the Knights have allowed just 6 goals in 10 games, with Asher sporting a 0.42 goals against average, saving 86.7 percent of shots faced in 9 starts.

As for the Nittany Lions (6-3-1, 2-0-0), they come into this one unranked despite winning their first two Big Ten matches. Penn State lost its only other ranked match this season, falling 1-0 to No. 15 Pittsburgh in September. Its two Big Ten wins have come against Northwestern and Michigan State and were enough for them to earn votes in last week’s United Soccer Coaches poll.

The Nittany Lions’ offense has been spearheaded by Peter Mangione and Andrew Privett, who have combined for 9 goals and four assists in the first 10 games of the season — helping lead the team to an average of 1.7 goals per game.

Historically, Penn State has been a difficult matchup for Rutgers, who has lost every game in this series but one since joining the Big Ten in 2014. The team's last win over the Nittany Lions was a 2-0 win in 2015.

The Knights come into this game sitting in sixth place in the Big Ten standings, just 2 points shy of the fourth seed, which would give them a home game in the opening round of the conference tournament. Penn State is tied for second in the conference with 6 points through 2 games.

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

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