The Rutgers men’s soccer team went 1-14-2 last season, one year removed from a 12 win campaign and second round appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The program is looking to rebound in a big way this season. This past weekend was encouraging, as Rutgers topped #24 UConn 1-0 in a preseason exhibition. Senior forward Dante Perez, the top returning scorer from last season, produced the lone goal.
On Wednesday, the Big Ten released their preseason coaches poll and Rutgers was picked to finish in last place in the ninth position. They have a lot to prove on the pitch this season. Note that there are only nine Big Ten men’s soccer teams, as Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Purdue, and Nebraska do not participate.
Each team had three players named to the preseason honors list and for Rutgers they were all seniors in forward Ethan Decker, midfielder Erik Sa, and defender Niel Guzman.
Rutgers begins the 2017 campaign with four consecutive road contests, including the first two matches of the season against ACC powers Wake Forest and North Carolina. Both programs made the College Cup last season, the men’s soccer version of the Final Four. That is quite a difficult start for a team with many new faces on the roster. One big addition is transfer and two-time JUCO All-American goalkeeper Rafael Pereira.
Despite the challenging start to the schedule, it’s very encouraging that Rutgers played so well against a ranked foe in their first exhibition match. They take on Monmouth on Wednesday night in another exhibition, before opening the season at Wake Forest on Friday, August 25th. For a full review of the 2017 schedule, click here. We will have a full season preview ahead of their first game, so stay tuned.