The Rutgers men's soccer team went on the road to face off against Penn State in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament on Friday. The Scarlet Knights (5-7-3, 3-4-1) suffered what was most likely a season-ending 3-1 loss to the Nittany Lions (9-3-4, 4-2-2).
The game started out even with both sides battling to dominate possession in the midfield.
Rutgers had its first scoring chance in the 33rd minute when sophomore forward Ian Abbey's shot on the edge of the box went wide right of the post.
The Knights continued their momentum with a counter-attacking opportunity approximately 7 minutes later. Graduate student midfielder Jackson Temple found space and blasted his shot in the top left corner, forcing Kris Shakes into a diving save.
Despite Rutgers' positive momentum, Penn State would strike first in the contest. The goal came in the 42nd minute when Caden Grabfelder's back post cross found Mohamed Cisset, who headed his effort past sophomore goalkeeper Ciaran Dalton and into the back of the net.
The Knights attempted two more shots before the end of the half, but neither posed a real threat, and the Nittany Lions took a 1-0 lead into halftime.
Penn State started the second half on the attack and was rewarded with a goal in the 54th minute. Peter Mangione received the ball at his feet and placed his shot in the bottom left corner to double the Nittany Lions' lead.
Rutgers pushed to get a goal back with scoring opportunities from freshman forward Luciano Sanchez and sophomore defender Sawyer Koza, but Shakes remained strong between the posts and saved both their efforts.
Penn State would put the game out of reach in the 75th minute when junior defender Joey Zalinsky's header back to Dalton fell short and was intercepted by Van Danielson, who slotted his shot into the back of the net.
The Knights scored a consolation goal in the 88th minute when junior midfielder Curt Calov's cross found the head of freshman defender Nick Collins, who redirected the ball past Shakes to score his first collegiate goal.
The goal came a little too late, as Rutgers was defeated and knocked out of the Big Ten Tournament.
The Knights had an 18-17 lead in shots and a 5-4 lead in corner kicks but could not take advantage of their attacking chances. Shakes recorded six saves and had a strong day between the posts.
Rutgers finished the season with a losing record and a rating percentage index of 97 percent, all but eliminating the team from making the NCAA Tournament.
The Knights will officially know their fate on November 13, when the 2023 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship bracket will be revealed.
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