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Rutgers men's soccer captures 1st ever Big Ten championship

The Rutgers men's soccer team made program history today, defeating Indiana 3-1 to win its first Big Ten Tournament title. – Photo by Rutgers Men's Soccer / Twitter

In front of a packed crowd at Yurcak Field on Busch campus, the Rutgers men's soccer team defeated Indiana 3-1 to capture its first Big Ten Championship in program history. With the historic win, the Scarlet Knights (10-4-6, 4-2-2) have earned an automatic bid in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

Rutgers started the game on the front foot and jumped out to a 1-0 lead in just the 4th minute. The goal started when senior forward MD Myers received the ball inside the box, picked up his head and found sophomore midfielder Matthew Acosta right by the penalty spot. Acosta immediately shot and buried the ball into the bottom right corner of the net.

After the goal, the Hoosiers (10-4-6, 3-1-4) slowly began to apply pressure on the Knights' goal. Their efforts paid off in the 38th minute when a corner kick from Ryan Wittenbrink found the head of Patrick McDonald at the back post. 

McDonald calmly headed the ball past freshman goalkeeper Ciaran Dalton to tie the game at 1-1, where the score stayed going into the half. Indiana took nine shots in the first period while Rutgers took seven shots in the first period. Both goalkeepers made two big saves in the first period.

The Knights started the second period on the attack again. In the 54th minute, junior forward Ola Maeland took the corner kick and scored a rare Olimpico to retake the lead for Rutgers. An Olimpico is when a player scores a goal directly off a corner kick.

Down 2-1, the Hoosiers started pressing the Knights' goal again, but the Rutgers defense stood strong and continued to repel Indiana’s attack. With the Hoosiers committing more men forward to score a potential equalizer, the Knights were able to strike on the counterattack. 

In the 85th minute, Myers tracked the ball deep into Indiana territory on a clearance from the Rutgers backline and found freshman forward Ian Abbey inside the box. Abbey immediately took the shot, which was just able to squeeze past the keeper and into the net to give the Knights a decisive 3-1 lead. With just 5 minutes left in the game, the Hoosiers could not mount a heroic comeback, giving Rutgers the Big Ten title.

Both teams took 14 shots in the game, but the Knights took eight shots on goal while Indiana took only five shots on target. Hoosier goalkeeper JT Harms made five saves while Dalton made four crucial saves for Rutgers. In a somewhat chippy game, Indiana committed six fouls to the Knights’ eight fouls.

Rutgers will now wait until tomorrow’s 1 p.m. selection show to see what seed the team will be given in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. The Knights' first NCAA Tournament since 2015 will start on November 17.

“I think we have a special group,” said head coach Jim McElderry after the game. “It has not been smooth sailing the whole time — you know we have had ups and downs — but really today was a game that showed how deep we are and how many different guys can add to the team.”


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


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