The Rutgers men’s soccer team had to come from behind on Friday night, but they pulled out a 3-2 victory over winless Lehigh at Yurcak Field to move to 4-0-1 on the season.
It was a scoreless match until captain Pablo Avila bent it from about 30 yards out for the first goal of the night. After not scoring since 2019 entering this season and missing the start of this campaign, Avila has now scored in each of the last two games. When he is effective on the attack, Rutgers is that much more difficult to face.
After entering halftime with the 1-0 lead, Lehigh ended the season scoreless streak for the Scarlet Knights defense and goalkeeper Oren Asher in the 49th minute, as Josh Luchini scored a goal that was assisted on by Trevor Koski and Euan Forrest in the air. Just a short while later in the 64th minute, Lehigh took the lead with an own goal by Rutgers. After nine plus halves without allowing a goal this season, RU allowed two scores in a matter of 15 minutes.
In danger of suffering its first defeat of the season, the veterans on this team stepped up as three seniors were involved in game tying and winning goals. Senior captain Thomas DeVizio produced the first multi-assist game of his career after setting up both goals with tremendous arcing passes into the box. He first found Ritchie Barry in the 69th minute, who scored from around 6 yards out to tie the game. Then in the 81st minute, DeVizio found Borden, who scored off of a header right at the top of the box to deliver the game winning goal.
“I knew the second half was going to be tough,” said head coach Jim McElderry. “Dean Koski does a great job coaching Lehigh, so I knew they were going to get after us. Their first goal was a good one, but we were lax on the second goal, which was disappointing. I’m proud of the group for refocusing, pushing, and continuing to play the right way, which got us the result tonight.”
Rutgers held a commanding 22-7 shot advantage including 10-1 in shots on goal in the contest. They also held a 9-2 advantage in corner kicks.
The win tied the all-time series at 20-20-3 that dates back to 1940.
Rutgers will next play Saint Joseph’s (1-4-0) on Monday, September 13 at 7 p.m. at Yurcak Field on Big Ten+. They’ll follow that with the start of Big Ten play on Friday, September 17 when they face defending Big Ten champion and NCAA Championship finalist Indiana (3-1-1).