The Rutgers men’s soccer remained unbeaten with a 1-0 victory over Penn (3-2-1) at Yurcak Field on Monday night. They improved to 7-0-1 on the season with a sixth consecutive win for the program’s best start since 1985.
The Scarlet Knights almost broke through in the first half on a header from freshman Joey Zalinsky off of a corner kick, but it just went off the right post. It was scoreless heading into halftime as RU held a 4-1 shot advantage and 2-0 edge with corners.
In the second half, Rutgers continued to attack. In the 60th minute, senior captain Thomas DeVizio sent a beautiful cross into the box and junior Anthony O’Donnell won the ball in the air before delivering a header into the back of the net. It was O’Donnell’s first goal of his career and he is the eighth player to score this season. DeVizio is now tied for the team lead with 4 assists along with Ola Maeland.
Goalkeeper Oren Asher made his lone save of the night right before the final horn to preserve the shutout as Rutgers won 1-0. It was the fifth shutout of the season for Asher.
For the game, RU outshot Penn 10-5 including 5-1 with shots on goal. They also held a 5-2 advantage on corner kicks.
“The guys battled hard,” coach Jim McElderry said. “It’s a game we expected to be difficult. UPenn is a good side. The first half was fairly tight. We had a few chances but couldn’t convert. The second half, we came out well. It was nice to score on a set piece. We hadn’t scored on a set piece like that this year, we’d been close a couple of times on a similar play. I was impressed how O’Donnell got up and got his head on it, it was a great goal.”
“This was a great team performance,” O’Donnell said. “Like coach says, it’s about strength in numbers. It was a great ball from Tommy and I was happy to be able to put the ball in. A great team effort, and now we have to keep it going for the next game.”
Rutgers was able to respond with a victory just three days after a come from behind 2-1 statement win against defending Big Ten champs and national power Indiana. It was the Hoosiers first home loss in conference play in six years. The victory catapulted RU to No. 12 in Top Drawer Soccer’s poll on Monday and they debuted at No. 21 in the United Coaches Poll released on Tuesday. Head coach Jim McElderry was a guest on the inaugural episode of Big Ten Today and discussed the current state of the program. You can watch it here.
The Scarlet Knights (7-0-1; 1-0-0) will resume Big Ten play on Friday at home against Wisconsin (2-2-3; 0-0-1) at 7 p.m.