Late Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor, the no. 24/25 Rutgers men’s soccer team opened Big Ten play with a 1-1 tie that was shortened due to lightning. It was a solid result for the Scarlet Knights, who were picked to finish last in the conference and despite exceeding expectations so far, picked up a draw against a Wolverines team predicted to finish in third place.
Michigan jumped out in front with a goal in the 3rd minute of the game, as Nebojsa Popovic scored from six yards out on a pass from Christian Pulselli.
It was tough way to start, but Rutgers continued to exhibit resilience this season. RU ended up tying the game in the 25th minute with Jørgen Wisth Lie scoring his third goal of the season. Once again it came off a penalty kick.
Michigan threatened to go ahead several times in the second half but Rutgers goalie Oren Asher made three saves after intermission, four in the game. Play was suspended in the 71st minute due to lightning strikes. After a 44 minute delay, they tried to resume action but the same issue reappeared. The game was called in the 72nd minute and a draw was the result.
Michigan (3-2-2) held a 9-6 edge in shots in the game and both teams had two corners apiece.
Head coach Jim McElderry was positive after the game, saying “another good performance from the boys. We conceded early, but never let that affect the rest of the game. I thought we were good in the first half for long periods of time. Michigan has quality players so we knew it would not be easy. Lightning shortened the match, so our guys were disappointed not to push for the win. Overall we are content with the day and now move onto a home match on Tuesday”
Rutgers is now 5-0-2 and have produced the program’s longest season opening unbeaten streak since 1987. They return home to face Saint Peter’s (3-3) on Tuesday night before resuming conference play against Michigan State (0-4-2) on Friday, September 27th for the Big Ten home opener.