After making the Big Ten Tournament on the final day of the regular season by beating Ohio State at home, the Rutgers men’s soccer team opens up postseason play on Sunday afternoon in a quarterfinal road rematch against Indiana — a matchup that the Scarlet Knights (9-5-2, 3-4-1) won back in September.
Rutgers is coming off an offensive explosion in their final game of the regular season, a 4-0 win over the Buckeyes (6-9-1, 2-6-0). That win saw junior midfielder Jackson Temple leading the effort with 1 goal and two assists and a late brace from sophomore forward Colin Beasley, who scored 2 goals in a span of just 4 minutes.
It was a much-needed burst of offense for the Knights, who had struggled to score throughout much of Big Ten play. After the upset over the Hoosiers (12-4-1, 5-3-0) in the conference opener, Rutgers went 0-3-1 in its next four conference games.
The Knights made up for that cold spell late in the season, winning 2 of its final 5 Big Ten games to earn the 5th seed in the conference tournament.
Defensively, Rutgers has been backstopped by junior goalkeeper Oren Asher, who has been the first-choice goalkeeper for the last three seasons. Asher has put up his best season on the Banks this fall, posting a career-low 0.96 goals against average with seven shutouts.
With the regular season in its rearview mirror, the focus now shifts to a road trip to Bloomington, Indiana — the same place where the Knights upset the then-No. 11 Hoosiers 2-1 back in September.
Since then, Indiana regained its form, winning 6 of their last 7 Big Ten games to wrap up the regular season with a 5-3-0 Big Ten record and a 12-4-1 overall record — entering the tournament as the 3rd seed behind Penn State and Maryland.
The Hoosiers are known for their prolific offense, having scored 32 goals in its 17 games this season. Victor Bezerra and Samuel Sarver lead the team in scoring with 6 goals each. They also boast a strong defense, with goalkeeper Roman Celentano boasting a 0.76 goals against average and eight shutouts in 17 starts.
While Rutgers started off the season having put together its best start in years, an up and down Big Ten season has the team staring right down the bubble of the NCAA Tournament.
If they’re able to take down a highly-touted Indiana team on the road for the second time this season, they’ll be in a prime position to earn the program’s first NCAA tournament bid since 2015.
For updates on the Rutgers men's soccer team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.