PISCATAWAY, NJ – Rutgers University earned a bid to the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship, the NCAA announced on Monday. The 18th-ranked Scarlet Knights (10-6-4) will host Patriot League Champion Lafayette College (11-5-3) in the opening round on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, NJ.
The invitation is head coach Bob Reasso’s 12th since taking over the program 23 seasons ago. Under his tutelage, the Scarlet Knights have reached the Final Four three times, including the championship match in 1990. Throughout Reasso’s standout career at Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights have never posted a losing record.
“I am delighted we got into the tournament,” said Reasso. “It feels great. I am happy for our guys and I am excited for our school. We play and we coach for a chance to win a national championship and we, along with 47 other teams, share the same dream. I was delighted to see six BIG EAST schools in the tournament. It shows you the strength of our conference. Lafayette is a local team which will make for a good environment on Saturday. It should be a very competitive match. I am happy to be playing at home in front of our home crowd.”
Rutgers enters the tournament coming off a heart breaking loss to rival St. John’s on penalty kicks, 4-3, in the BIG EAST Championship semifinals in Storrs, CT, on Friday. The Scarlet Knights have faced a challenging regular season schedule in 2003 that included seven teams who reached the NCAA Tournament. RU owns a 3-4-2 record against 2003 NCAA Tournament teams, playing both Seton Hall and St. John’s twice during both the regular season and conference postseason tournament.
In its last appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2001, Rutgers advanced to the third round, falling to the eventual national runner-up Indiana, 3-0, in Bloomington, IN.
Lafayette is coming off a 2-0 victory over Lehigh to earn its fifth Patriot League Tournament title on Sunday in Lewisburg, PA. The Leopards are led by senior Jamie Mullarkey with 24 points (8g, 8a) this season.
Rutgers joins five other BIG EAST schools who earned a bid on Monday. St. John’s, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Seton Hall and Connecticut all reached the 48-team field.
Should Rutgers advance to the second round of the tournament, it will travel to Akron, OH, to face the No. 16 seed Akron Zips on Wednesday, Nov. 26. Akron, ranked 21st nationally, was the final school to earn a seed in the field.
The NCAA Men’s College Cup will be on Dec. 12 and 14 at Columbus Crew
Stadium in Columbus, OH.