PISCATAWAY, NJ - Junior Richie Arenas (Guatemala City, Guatemala) scored two second-half goals to lead No. 11 Rutgers (6-2) past San Diego State, 4-1, to complete opening-night action of the 18th annual Philips/adidas Soccer Classic. The victory is also the 300th of head coach Bob Reasso’s Rutgers career. The game pitted Reasso against his former player and assistant coach Lev Kirshner.
After a scoreless opening half, in which Rutgers out-shot SDSU 5-3, Arenas broke through for his fifth goal of the season when he drilled a left-footed rocket from 10-yards out off a feed from Chris Karcz (Clifton, NJ). Karcz had dribbled into the box and drew SDSU goalkeeper Colin Hanke away from the goalmouth, setting up Arenas for the game’s first score at the 48:27 mark.
At the 71:25 mark, senior Josh Gros (Mechanicsburg, PA) registered his team-leading eighth goal of the season, sending home a rebounded shot to increase the lead to 2-0. Brian Johnson (Marshfield, MA) sent a cross into the box for Karcz, whose shot was saved by Hanke but squirted away to an opportunistic Gros. Just over four minutes later (75:50), Arenas drilled home a header, set up by Johnson, to put the game seemingly out of reach.
San Diego State, who entered the match 6-1-1 overall, ruined the shutout with a goal from Raul Bautista at the 84:01 mark, but Rutgers responded when Karcz scored off feeds from Gros and freshman Nick LaBrocca (Howell, NJ) just over a minute later (85:33). The four goals equaled a season high for the Scarlet Knights, achieved on two other occasions (Providence, 9/6; Pittsburgh, 9/14).
Reasso enjoyed his 300th Rutgers win tonight, adding yet another milestone to his standout 23-year coaching tenure with the Scarlet Knights. Since taking over the program in 1981, the Scarlet Knights have enjoyed 22-consecutive seasons without a losing record, including 11 trips to the NCAA Tournament and three Final Four appearances.
“This was a great win for our guys and a great night for this program,” said Reasso. “The night started off with a great ceremony for two of our former players who have done a lot for this program through the years. As you get older, you realize it is more about the players and the people that come through your program and we have had truly special people come through this program. Tonight’s milestone win was just a tribute to the great people we have had play for us through the years.”
In the opener tonight, St. John’s handed St. Mary’s (CA) a 3-0 defeat.
Rutgers added two new members to its retired jersey list in a ceremony on the field prior to RU’s match with San Diego State. Dave Mueller and Steve Rammel, both 1990 graduates of RU, joined six others with the prestigious honor.
The Classic continues on Sunday, when St. John’s faces San Diego State and Rutgers hosts St. Mary’s at 2:00 p.m.