In front of 1,500+ boisterous fans at Yurcak Field on a cool, pleasant November evening, the second-seeded Scarlet Knights (9-4-6, 5-2-2) faced off against the third-seed Ohio State Buckeyes (10-3-5, 4-3-2) in the second round of the 2022 B1G Men’s Soccer Tournament.
The Knights advanced to the second round after a first round victory over seventh-seed Wisconsin last Friday at Yurcak Field, prevailing 5-4 on penalty kicks after the teams played a scoreless regulation and 20-minute overtime period.
The first half of play was chippy and physical, with a couple dust ups in which referee Dimitar Chavdarov struggled to get control of the match. Knights freshman keeper Ciaran Dalton kept the Buckeyes off the scoreboard with a couple of fantastic fist half saves.
In the 26th minute, senior Jackson Temple headed a beautiful crossing pass from Chris Tiao past Buckeyes B1G goalie of the year Keagan McLaughlin for a 1-0 Rutgers lead. The Knights would finish the half with only one shot on goal while the Buckeyes had three shots, and were denied each time by some brilliant goalkeeping by the frosh Dalton.
The Buckeyes would knot the score up 1-1 in the 51st minute as Luciano Pechota snuck a pass through to Xavier Green in the box, and Green was able to tap the ball past Dalton for the equalizer.
The game would remain tied until the 61st minute, when Chris Tiao went to work on his own, fighting through defenders and striking a nice ball off the finger tips of Buckeyes keeper McLaughlin. The senior and member of the NY Redbull club had a standout game and picked an opportune time to score his first goal of the season.
Ohio State poured on the offensive pressure in the 2nd half, outshooting Rutgers 10-6, but were unable to find the equalizer as they desperately attacked.
On to the B1G Championship
Update: The Scarlet Knights will play fourth-seeded Indiana in the Big Ten Championship this Sunday at noon at Yurcak Field, airing live on the Big Ten Network. This is Rutgers’s first appearance in the B1G championship game, and first since 1997 as members of the Big East.
NCAA Tournament Outlook
Rutgers currently sits at #44 in the latest RPI projections - firmly on the bubble. Unlike the women’s tournament that features 64 teams, the men’s field is capped at 48. Winning a B1G championship earns an automatic bid and eliminates sweating out the selection show. Losing leaves it up to the committee, though playing Indiana (#22) should give the Knights a bump to help make their case.