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Rutgers men's soccer season ends in NCAA Tournament loss to UPenn

The Rutgers men's soccer team saw its season end in the first round of the NCAA Tournament this evening at UPenn. – Photo by Rutgers Men's Soccer / Twitter

In the opening round of the NCAA tournament, the Rutgers men’s soccer team lost to UPenn 3-0 tonight in its first tournament appearance since 2015. The Scarlet Knights (10-5-6, 4-2-2) saw their season end after defeating Indiana 3-1 to win the Big Ten Tournament this past Sunday.

The Quakers (13-2-2, 6-1-0) got started early with Ben Stitz scoring a goal less than 2 minutes into the game. UPenn stayed aggressive, notching 11 shots in the first half. Stas Korzeniowski added to the Quakers’ total with another goal in the 31st minute, making it a 2-0 deficit for Rutgers at halftime.

The Knights began to attack more aggressively at the beginning of the second half, but UPenn adjusted well on defense and turned away shot after shot. Rutgers out-shot the Quakers 7-5 in the second half, but it was not enough to stop Stitz from striking again on an assist from Mateo Zazueta in the 70th minute on a misplay by the Knights defense.

Stitz’s 2nd goal of the night made it a 3-0 deficit for Rutgers, a lead the team could not overcome to earn its first NCAA Tournament win since that 2015 season.

Part of the reason for UPenn’s victory was goalkeeper Nick Christoffersen, who had an excellent game with five saves and no goals allowed. Knights freshman goaltender Ciaran Dalton recorded six saves but allowed 3 decisive goals.

It was also a physical game throughout, with 23 fouls committed between both teams. For Rutgers, graduate defender Thomas Devizio, senior defender Chris Tiao, senior defender Hugo Le Guennec and sophomore midfielder Matthew Acosta each had multiple fouls.

Senior forward and the season's leading goal scorer MD Myers was largely held quiet in the matchup, notching only two shots in his 86 minutes of action while Acosta led the way for the Knights with three shots, none of which were on goal.

The Quakers will move on to face Syracuse in the second round of the NCAA tournament while Rutgers now heads home after a historic season. The Knights won their first conference title since 1997 when they were a member of the Big East Conference. The win also represented the first Big Ten title for any men’s program in school history.

"I thought our guys pushed as hard as they could," said head coach Jim McElderry after the loss. "I'm really proud of how they played the game tonight — it wasn’t easy. I think it’s been a long couple of weeks for our guys."

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

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