The Rutgers men's soccer team concluded its 2023 season with a loss to Penn State in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament on November 3. The Scarlet Knights (5-7-3, 3-4-1) were unable to replicate their success from the 2022 season that saw them win the Big Ten Championship and make the NCAA Tournament.
Rutgers struggled in non-conference play to begin the season. The Knights earned home wins against Saint Peter's and Columbia but fell to Delaware, Princeton and UCLA on the road.
Rutgers picked up its first conference win in a road game against Maryland on October 3. Sophomore goalkeeper Ciaran Dalton had a strong performance as his career-high 10 saves helped lead the Knights to victory.
Heading into the final weeks of October, winning was the only option for Rutgers to earn an NCAA Tournament berth and secure a spot in the Big Ten Tournament. The Knights found their form with consecutive home victories over the Nittany Lions (9-3-4, 4-2-2) and Wisconsin.
Rutgers then traveled to Bloomington, Indiana, to face off against Indiana on the final day of the regular season. The Knights fell flat and suffered a 4-1 defeat.
Rutgers made the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 7 seed but was ultimately unable to reach the final like it did last season. Due to the Knights' losing record, they were automatically eliminated from the NCAA Tournament.
Rutgers struggled on defense this season, as it conceded a conference-leading 33 goals. The Knights let in an average of 2.06 goals per game.
Despite the results this season, many players stood out for Rutgers and made an impact on the pitch.
Junior midfielders Curt Calov and Matthew Acosta combined for 6 goals and six assists and each started more than 12 games. Senior forward Ola Maeland scored 4 goals, and sophomore forward Ian Abbey netted 3 goals and dished out two assists.
Dalton finished the season with a goals against average of 2.21 and a 63.1 save percentage. Dalton will likely keep his role as the starting goalkeeper next season.
Many freshmen played significant roles for the Knights this year. Freshmen defenders Nick Collins and Devon Stopek solidified their starting roles on defense, combining for 1,663 minutes played. Freshman midfielder Francesco Di Ponzio featured in eight matches. For the attack, freshman forward Luciano Sanchez found the back of the net twice in 16 appearances.
Rutgers will look to bounce back next season and make a return to the NCAA Tournament. With the help of talented underclassmen and potential transfer portal activity, head coach Jim McElderry can continue succeeding on the Banks.
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