PISCATAWAY, N.J. (September 4, 2014) – Sophomore goalkeeper David Greczek (Fairfield, N.J.) made seven saves against a potent Syracuse offense, but the Orange’s Emil Ekblom sent a header in off a free kick from Oyvind Alseth in the 74th minute as the Rutgers men’s soccer team fell 1-0 to their former Big East rivals on Thursday night at Yurcak Field.
Syracuse, a team that went a perfect 7-0 in nonconference competition a season ago and averaged three goals per game in the first two games this season, improved to 3-0 on the year. The Scarlet Knights, who opened the season with wins over UMKC and Lafayette, dropped their first contest of the 2014 season. A victory would have given Rutgers its best start since 1996.
“I give a lot of credit to Syracuse. They are a very talented team and I thought they really took it to us in the first 45 minutes. We tried to make some adjustments in the second half to change the complexity of the game, but it wasn’t enough,” said Rutgers head coach Dan Donigan. “Their keeper made a big time save late in the game to preserve the game.”
Redshirt junior JP Correa (Montville, N.J.) gave Rutgers a chance at tying the score with just under five minutes remaining. Sophomore Erik Sa’s (Watchung, N.J.) corner kick found Correa at the left post, but his point blank range header was stopped by Syracuse’s Alex Bono. Bono ended the night with a trio of stops in net for the Orange.
Greczek meanwhile was a stalwart in net for the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers found themselves being outshot 8-4 in the opening half, but the sophomore netminder was able to make six stops including a give and go from Syracuse’s Alex Halis and a six-yard blast from Stefanos Stamoulacatos in the 35th minute of play.
“He made unbelievable saves,” said Donigan of Greczek. “We’ve got to find ways to prevent those type of opportunities for our opponents. David is a tremendous keeper and he certainly showed that tonight.”
The teams entered the half at a scoreless tie and remained that way until the 74th minute. Alseth sent in a free kick from 30 yards out and Ekblom got a piece of the ball at the top left corner of the box to send in the game-winner.
While the Scarlet Knights were able to limit the Orange’s looks at net in the second half, Syracuse ended the game outshooting RU, 11-8. The Orange also held an 11-3 advantage in corners,
“I’m still excited about this group because we have a lot to work with,” noted Donigan. “It’s still early in the season and now I’m looking for us to rebound in the right way.”
The Rutgers men’s soccer team returns to action on Sunday, Sept. 7 at 1 p.m. against Hofstra. The first 300 fans in attendance can receive a free Rutgers rubber bracelet and the Scarlet Knights will be signing postgame autographs.
· The Rutgers men’s soccer team goes to 2-1 on the year with the 1-0 loss to Syracuse and is off to its best start since 2008. A win against the Orange would have marked the first time since 1996 the Scarlet Knights opened a season at 3-0.
· The Scarlet Knights fell to 10-9-1 all-time against Syracuse and 42-39-11 against the current members of the ACC.
· With six saves against the Orange, goalkeeper David Greczek registered his 11th career game with five or more stops. He currently has 120 career saves in 23 games played.
· Thursday’s game marked the first time this season the Scarlet Knights had been outshot. Redshirt junior JP Correa led Rutgers with three shots, including two on goal.
· Freshman Jason Wright, who has tallied all three RU goals to date, had one shot against Syracuse.
· Redshirt sophomore defender Kiernan Kemmerer made his 2014 debut.
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