Rutgers men’s soccer (2-0-1) earned an important road victory against state rival Princeton on Friday night in front of a full capacity crowd at Sherrerd Field. The Scarlet Knights won 1-0 as a Cole Sotack cross in the 56th minute was deflected into the net for the lone score in the game. Goalkeeper Oren Asher made seven saves in the victory for his third shutout in as many games this fall. The Scarlet Knights have now opened the season with three consecutive shutouts for the first time since the 1990 Alexi Lalas led team that made the NCAA Tournament finals.
Asher has emerged as a legitimate star for Rutgers and proved it again on Friday night, making three saves after they took the lead in the second half. He made two diving saves in the final three minutes of the game. The current Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week earned the 10th shutout of his career.
Asher was quick to spread credit around the entire team rather than himself after the victory.
”The whole team is doing a great job defending,” Asher said. “It starts in the midfield and the attackers coming back, as well. It’s about the team effort. It was a great atmosphere at Princeton and we’re happy with the win.”
Head coach Jim McElderry agreed with Asher in stressing that the entire team’s performance was the major difference. Joey Zalinsky, Vince Borden, and senior captain Thomas DeVizio all played 90 minutes in defense.
”Oren is a fantastic goalkeeper, but it really takes an entire team effort to get these shutouts,” said head coach Jim McElderry. “We’re proud of the group. Princeton is a great team with great players that caused some problems for us. It was a battle and we want to be known as a team that’s tough to play, and I think we lived up to that tonight.”
It was a gutty win for Rutgers after Princeton held a 20-12 shot advantage and a 7-4 edge in shots on goal in the game. The Tigers also held possession for 54% of the game and produced an 8-3 advantage in corner kicks. Friday night was the first game for Princeton in almost two years after last season was cancelled due to COVID-19. However, it’s an experienced team as 18 players returned from the 2018 Ivy League Championship team.
It was good news to see captain Pablo Avila back after missing the first two games due to injury. He played 63 minutes and set up Sotack on the goal with a great through ball that got behind the defense.
Rutgers will next host Mount St. Mary’s on Monday, September 6 at 7 p.m. at Yurcak Field on Big Ten+.