PISCATAWAY, N.J. (August 28, 2013) – The 75th year of Rutgers men’s soccer opens this weekend as the Scarlet Knights travel to Duke to take on the host Blue Devils on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Elon on Sunday at noon.
· Head coach Dan Donigan begins his fourth season at the helm of the Scarlet Knight program. He has guided the Scarlet Knights to a 21-25-6 record while “On the Banks”, including an at-large bid to the 2011 NCAA College Cup. Donigan arrived at Rutgers following nine successful seasons at Saint Louis University, including seven NCAA Tournament appearances. He holds a career record of 139-67-29.
· RU fought through injuries and played one of the toughest schedules in the country last season, finishing just shy of a Big East Tournament bid and more importantly, a NCAA berth. RU closed out the 2012 campaign at No. 35 in the RPI, just missing out on the 48-team College Cup bracket.
· The Scarlet Knights took on six opponents that reached the 2012 NCAA Tournament, including national runner-up Georgetown and Final Four participant Creighton.
· RU returns 12 letterwinners and eight starters from last year’s squad that finished 7-7-1 overall and sixth in the BIG EAST Red Division with a 3-4-1 conference mark.
· The Scarlet Knights return five of last season’s top scorers including Second Team All-BIG EAST honoree Kene Eze. Eze, a senior forward/midfielder, led RU with eight goals, including four game-winners, an assist and 17 points.
· Rutgers returns Soccer America and College Soccer News All-Freshman Second Team honoree Mael Corboz. Corboz, who was also a Second Team All-BIG EAST and Rookie Team selection, was the Scarlet Knights’ second leading scorer at three goals, seven assists and 13 points. His seven assists were the most by a Scarlet Knight in a single season since the 2001 campaign and ties for 17th all-time in the single season record books.
· Also returning to the pitch will be BIG EAST All-Rookie team member Mitchell Taintor. Taintor started in 14 games on the defense as a freshman for the Scarlet Knights and totaled three goals for six points in his rookie campaign.
VOTE FOR THE 75th ANNIVERSARY TEAM
To help Rutgers men’s soccer celebrate its 75th anniversary, Scarlet Knight fans are being asked to help select an All-Anniversary Team through online voting at ScarletKnights.com. The 11-person team will honored at a later date during the 2013 season.
A GLANCE AT THE SCHEDULE
RU’s schedule features 11 home dates at Yurcak Field, competition against eight teams that reached the 2012 NCAA Tournament and three squads ranked in the top ten of the final polls.
The regular season kicks off with Rutgers heading to the Duke Soccer classic where the Scarlet Knights will face the host Blue Devils along with back-to-back Southern Conference Champions, Elon.
RU will get an early taste of Big Ten action, a conference the Scarlet Knights will enter next season, with Penn State as well as Akron, a squad that reached the third round of the College Cup. Also in non-conference play, RU will meet up with CAA Champions, Drexel.
In American Athletic Conference play, Rutgers will take on NCAA quarterfinalists Connecticut and Louisville as well as 2012 regular season Conference USA champion SMU. The Huskies just missed out on making the final four of the College Cup with a 1-0 loss to Creighton and finished sixth the polls. The Cardinals, who fell 2-1 to RU last season, lost to Maryland in the NCAA quarterfinals and closed out the year ranked ninth in the final polls.
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights played the last 18 seasons in the BIG EAST and will play one season in the American Athletic Conference before making the move to the Big Ten in 2014.
The Blue Devils finished the year 8-8-2 overall, just missing a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003. All eight of Duke’s losses came by one goal as the Blue Devils gave up 11 goals all season. Duke’s 0.70 goals against average was the lowest since the 1987 season.
Duke was picked to finish fifth in the ACC Poll. The Blue Devils return 23 players from last season including MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List member and ACC Defensive Player of the Year in senior defender Sebastien Ibeagha. Also returning is junior midfielder Sean Davis, a Second Team All-ACC pick.
In preseason play, the Blue Devils went 1-0-1 opening with a 0-0 draw against George Washington. Duke had an 11-4 advantage in shots, including a 5-2 edge on corner kicks against the Colonials. The Duke Soccer Classic host then earned a 4-2 preseason win over Old Dominion with four different Blue Devils finding the back of the net. Freshmen Brody Huitema and Seo-In Kim both had goals, while sophomore Luis Rendon and junior Sean Davis both netted unassisted scores.
Rutgers leads the all-time series 2-1-1. The two teams last met on Oct. 5, 2001 with the Scarlet Knights taking a 3-2 victory.
The Elon men’s soccer team, back-to-back Southern Conference champions, finished 2012 at 15-5-2 overall. The Phoenix fell in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, 2-0, to No. 13 Coastal Carolina.
The Phoenix were tabbed second in the Southern Conference Preseason Poll with midfielders Daniel Lovitz and Matt Wescoe, along with junior goalkeeper Nathan Dean, named to the preseason all-conference team. Wescoe is the Phoenix’s returning leader in points with 19 after scoring six goals and dishing out a team-best seven assists a year ago. Lovitz played and started all 22 matches a year ago and scored three goals along with two assists. Dean played every minute between the posts in 2012 and led the SoCon with 84 saves. He and the Phoenix backline posted seven shutouts last season, including three versus ranked competition.
In preseason action, Elon fell to both its preseason opponents. The Phoenix fell, 3-0, to No. 4 North Carolina, but did manage to hold the Tar Heels scoreless in the first half. Against South Carolina, a team the Scarlet Knights will face on Sept. 15, Elon fell, 2-0, despite holding a 9-8 advantage in shots and 8-5 edge in corners.
This will be the first meeting between Rutgers and Elon.
AMERICAN PRESEASON POLL
The 2013 Rutgers men’s soccer team was picked fifth in the American Athletic Conference preseason poll, as voted on by the league’s nine coaches.
2013 American Athletic Conference
Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. UConn (8) ............ 64
2. Louisville (1) ........ 55
3. USF ........................ 49
4. SMU ...................... 42
5. Rutgers ................. 33
6. Memphis .............. 28
7. UCF ....................... 26
8. Cincinnati .......... 18
9. Temple .................. 9
Sophomore midfielder Mael Corboz picked up a handful of honors prior to the start of the 2013 campaign.
Corboz was named to the American Preseason All-Conference Team and was named a Preseason All-American and Preseason First Team All-Conference selection by College Sports Madness. A Second Team All-BIG EAST and All-Rookie selection year ago, Corboz was named a Second Team Freshman All-American by both Soccer America and College Soccer News in his first season with the Scarlet Knights. In his first year “On the Banks”, he was RU’s second leading scorer with three goals and a team-leading seven assists. His seven assists in 2012 tied for sixth in the BIG EAST, 22nd nationally in assists and were the most by a Scarlet Knight since 2001.
Senior forward Kene Eze also earned preseason recognition being tabbed an American Preseason All-Conference Team member and a First Team All-Conference honoree by College Sports Madness.
Eze, a Second Team All-BIG EAST pick last season, led RU with eight goals, including four-game winners. He tied for 10th in the BIG EAST in points (17) and goals (8), while ranking seventh in the league in points per game (1.13) and fifth in goals per game (0.53). He captured game-winning goals against the College of Charleston, Central Connecticut, Louisville, in the first win over the Cardinals since 2008, as well as the golden goal against Villanova in the season finale.
Adding to scoring power will be redshirt sophomore JP Correa. Correa had a stellar freshman season back in 2011, but injury forced him to the sidelines in 2012. During his rookie campaign, he helped guide the Scarlet Knights to NCAA Tournament by racking up six goals and five assists en route to picking up NSCAA Second Team All-Northeast Region honors.
The Scarlet Knights also welcome back fifth-year senior co-captain Joe Setchell to the pitch. Setchell, who was another Scarlet Knight who fell victim to the injury bug last year, bolsters the backfield and provides veteran leadership. Setchell helped RU to the Sweet 16 of the 2011 NCAA Tournament after transferring from Tyler Junior College in Texas, where he helped the Apaches to back-to-back National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Championships.
Also returning is redshirt junior Todd Webb. Webb, who will serve as one of the four RU captains, missed a majority of last season but returns to add veteran leadership and depth.
UVA EXHIBITION RECAP
The Rutgers men’s soccer team closed the preseason last Saturday night at Yurcak Field in a 0-0 tie with No. 25 Virginia.
The Scarlet Knights were outshot, 16-2, but managed to keep the nationally-ranked Cavaliers from finding the back of the net. Freshman David Greczek got the start in net, playing 75 minutes with four saves. Greczek made a point blank range stop against the Cavaliers’ Ryan Zinkhan early in the game. Classmate Mitchell Wailer closed out the game’s final 15 minutes recording one stop.
Rutgers’ best look of the night came in the 83rd minute off a Scarlet Knight corner kick. Freshman Jack Young took a shot from the right corner of the net, but as UVA keeper Jeff Gal stretched out to make the save, the ball went just a bit wide, hitting the post and traveling out of bounds,
Sophomore Mitchell Taintor had RU’s other shot with a header early in the game.
MONMOUTH EXHIBITION RECAP
The Rutgers men’s soccer team battled in-state rival Monmouth to a scoreless tie in its first preseason showing of the 2013 campaign last Tuesday.
Neither squad was able to reach the back of the net after two 30-minute periods followed by another 20-minute session. Monmouth, who is receiving votes in the College Soccer News Preseason Poll and returns three regional All-Americans, held a slight advantage in shots, 7-6
Newcomer Erik Sa was able to fire away three shots on the Hawk net, while American All-Preseason member Mael Corboz had one attempt, as did sophomore Dimitri Vassiliadis and rookie Andrew Weber from off the bench.
Freshman Mitchell Wailer posted Rutgers’ lone save of the afternoon, with fellow freshman David Greczek and redshirt freshman Ryan Baird each getting time in goal.
Season tickets for RU men’s soccer are on sale and are $50 for adults, $40 for children 12 & under and seniors 55 & older. All packages include a free t-shirt. Season tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at 732-907-1570.
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