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Rutgers men's soccer set to kick off important 2022 season

Senior midfielder Jackson Temple was selected as a Player to Watch in the Big Ten as the Rutgers men's soccer team gets set to begin its season in Omaha, Nebraska. – Photo by Rich Shultz / Scarletknights

Today, the Rutgers men’s soccer team will open its season in Omaha, Nebraska, to take on Nebraska Omaha. The Scarlet Knights will look to build on a successful 2021 season in which they finished with a record of 9-6-2 and got their first win against a ranked opponent since 2015.

Head Coach Jim McElderry is entering his fourth season on the Banks. McElderry joined the program off of a campaign in which the team went 4-13-1 and, in his first season, immediately improved Rutgers' record to 7-8-3. Each year since then, the Knights have steadily improved their record under McElderry.

This year, Rutgers will look to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015. The program was on track last year to make the tournament before losing 5 of its last 7 games, including losing to Indiana 1-0 in the Big Ten Tournament to end the season.

Entering this season, sophomore midfielder Matthew Acosta, senior midfielder Jackson Temple and senior forward MD Myers were all selected by the Big Ten as Players to Watch.

Acosta started all 17 games as a freshman and was unanimously picked for the All-Big Ten Freshman Team, while Temple has been a staple for the program for the last three years. Last year, Temple earned All-Big Ten Second Team honors and led the Knights with 6 goals and two assists.

Myers is a transfer from High Point with 51 career points with the Panthers on 21 goals and nine assists in three seasons. In the 2020 season, Myers’ 14 goals were tied for the most in all of Divison I soccer. 

Sophomore goalkeeper Aurie Briscoe will most likely start between the sticks for Rutgers. Briscoe made one start and one appearance last year in a 2-0 loss to Wisconsin. McElderry does not seem worried, though, about the lack of experience at the goalkeeper position.

“I think he's had a great summer ... he had a chance to go down and train with the full Puerto Rican national team," said McElderry. "He learned a lot about keeping himself sharp and training habits … I think a lot of the teams in the country would be happy with our three (goalkeepers).”

While these four players are the names to look out for, the rest of the team is strong as well. The Knights bring back 23 players and 12 players with eight or more starts from the 2021 roster. They are joined by eight newcomers, four from New Jersey and the other four from out of state.

After Rutgers starts its season against the Mavericks, it will travel to play Creighton on Sunday. The Knights’ first home match at Yurcak Field will come on September 2 against Princeton.

Rutgers will play a Mavericks team led by new head coach Donovan Dowling. Nebraska Omaha was predicted to finish third in the Summit League in a 2022 men's soccer preseason poll.

“Our guys understand what's needed to be successful at the elite Division I level," McElderry said. "Right now we're not getting too far ahead of ourselves ... Let’s think about Omaha … I think we've got a group that can compete with anybody.”

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

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