The Rutgers men’s soccer team proved a resilient bunch on Monday night in Philadelphia, coming from behind to defeat Drexel 2-1. Trailing 1-0 at the half, the Scarlet Knights were able to fight back, as several freshmen played key roles once again.
Drexel took the lead in the 14th minute, as Chris Donovan scored from the right post off an assist from Patrick Murphy. The host Dragons maintained the lead until the 60th minute when freshman Jørgen Wisth Lie scored on a penalty kick, his second of the season.
With the game tied late, Rutgers completed its comeback as FDU transfer and sophomore Valentino Ambrosio drew the Drexel keeper off his line, setting up freshman Jackson Temple, who was able to put the ball in the back of the net for the game winning goal in the 77th minute.
Another freshman, Israeli goalkeeper Oren Asher, won his second consecutive start in the net and made two saves, both in the second half, to ensure the victory.
Head Coach Jim McElderry had this to say after Rutgers moved to 2-0 in his inaugural season.
“I thought the first half we started off a little slow, but give Drexel credit as they were hungry for a result. I thought they outplayed us in the first half. It wasn’t that our guys weren’t trying hard, it was just that they played a little bit better. Second half, our guys started to be a hair more competitive. They got after it a little bit more and not think so much, just react and make plays. We had guys all over the field that stepped up and made plays. Obviously the guys that scored goals but also guys at the back really keeping it simple and limiting Drexel’s chances.”
Rutgers outshot Drexel 8-7, including 7-4 in the second half, and held a 5-4 advantage with corner kicks.
The Scarlet Knights never gave up and it’s a credit to McElderry and this year’s team, who have already produced half of last season’s win total in just two games.
Temple spoke about his winning score and the team’s belief in one another.
“I saw all the guys running towards Val (Ambrosio) because he had a good chance. I was trying to read the second ball. It popped out to me and I was ready for it. I saw the keeper diving low, so I hit it high. We believed in ourselves even though we were down a goal. We kept fighting and I think we’ve been coming together really well.”
Rutgers (2-0) will venture out on the road for the third consecutive game on Saturday, September 7th to face Elon (1-0-1) at 7 p.m. The Scarlet Knights lost 8-1 last season against the Phoenix, but this is a completely different roster with a different mindset under McElderry. It will be another good test for this group who have impressed early on this season.