PISCATAWAY, N.J. (September 5, 2013) – The Rutgers men’s soccer team returns to action this weekend to kick off a five-game homestand at Yurcak Field. RU will be looking to earn its first victory of the 2013 season hosting future Big Ten rival Penn State in the home opener on Friday at 7 p.m. and an Akron squad currently ranked fifth in the country, according to the NSCAA Coaches Poll, on Sunday at 1 p.m..
* Fans in attendance on Friday night can receive a free 2013 men’s soccer schedule posters. The Scarlet Knights will also be available post-game to sign autographs.
* Both games vs. Penn State and #5 Akron can be viewed on RVison presented by AT&T at ScarletKnights.com with Danny Breslauer and Kyle Franko on the call.
* Friday night's home opener will also air on Rutgers' student radio station 88.7 FM with James Stumper and Brian Walsh on the broadcast.
* The Scarlet Knights are coming off a 0-1-1 season opening weekend which saw a 1-1 double overtime tie with Duke and a 2-1 loss to Elon at the Duke Soccer Classic.
* RU is led by senior forward Kene Eze and junior midfielder Nathan Bruccoleri with one goal apiece.
* Freshman goalkeeper David Greczek holds a .769 save percentage and 1.35 goals against average.
The Scarlet Knights host Penn State and Akron, the first of a five-game homestand and 11 regular season games at Yurcak Field.
Last season, RU posted a 6-1 record at home with their final appearance of the 2012 season being a 3-2 overtime win over Villanova in BIG EAST play. Senior forward Kene Eze scored the golden goal in the 98th minute against the Wildcats in what would be honored as the 2012 “Goal of the Year” at the annual men’s soccer banquet.
Other home victories in 2012 included wins over Fordham, College of Charleston, Central Connecticut State, Louisville and DePaul. The lone blemish on RU’s home slate last season was a 2-1 setback to No. 15 St. John’s.
Since Dan Donigan took over the program in 2010 the Scarlet Knights have gone 16-9-1 at the friendly confines of Yurcak Field, including a 2-1 mark in home openers. RU has won seven of its last eight games at home.
Midfielders junior Nathan Bruccoleri and sophomore Mael Corboz were both named to the Duke Soccer Classic All-Tournament Team during the Scarlet Knights’ opening weekend.
Bruccoleri scored RU’s lone goal in Sunday’s 2-1 loss to two-time SoCon champions, Elon. The junior midfielder got Rutgers onto the scoreboard in the game’s 34th minute taking a feed from senior forward Kene Eze off a rebound. It was Bruccoleri’s first goal of the season and fourth of his career.
Corboz, meanwhile, accounted for seven of Rutgers’ 20 shots against Elon and Duke. He currently leads the Scarlet Knights in the category.
A TALE OF TWO HALVES
The Scarlet Knights have shown they are a first half team and will be looking to parlay its opening half success into the second half this weekend.
Opening the season, RU outshot its opponents 16-10 and out-cornered the opposition, 6-3, along with scoring both its goals in first stanza play.
The second half has been a different story however with the opponent outshooting the Scarlet Knights, 22-4, and taking a 9-2 advantage in corners. Additionally, all three goals netted by the opposition has occurred in the second half.
BETWEEN THE POSTS
Rutgers debuted a new goalie last weekend in David Greczek, taking over the position from the graduated Kevin McMullen, who played the last two seasons in net.
To date, the rookie holds a .769 save percentage and 1.35 goals against average.
Along with goalkeeper David Greczek, last weekend also marked the Scarlet Knight debut of freshmen Spencer Hambleton, Erik Sa and Zach Bialik. Hambleton and Sa both got starting nods at defense and midfielder respectively in games with Duke and Elon. Bialik came off the bench in both games.
SCOUTING PENN STATE
The Nittany Lions, the 2012 Big Ten regular season champions, have opened the 2013 campaign at 2-0 with 1-0 victories over Radford and Central Connecticut in Happy Valley last weekend. Against Radford, freshman Mark Wadid captured the game-winner in his collegiate debut while redshirt junior Eli Dennis lifted PSU to the win against CCSU. In goal, junior Andrew Wolverton, a Second Team All-Big Ten member, has made six saves to date and has registered 15 career shutouts.
Last year, PSU went 9-5-3 overall and 3-1-2 in the Big Ten for the regular season title. The season ended in the Big Ten semifinals with a 3-1 loss to Michigan State.
The Nittany Lions lost 10 student-athletes from last season’s squad to graduation. Among those returning for PSU are junior midfielder Owen Griffith, a Second Team All-Ten selection and sophomore midfielder Drew Klingenberg, a Big Ten All-Freshman Team honoree. Griffith started all 17 games last season with a goal against Hartford along with two assists. He also picked up Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors early last season. Klingenberg appeared in 16 games with three starts a year ago. He registered 12 shots and two assists.
Bob Warming is in his fourth season at the helm of the Penn State program. He earned up Big Ten Coach of the Year last season, was a three-time Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year (1992, 1993, 2008) while at Creighton and is a six-time finalist for NCAA Division I National Coach of the Year honors
Akron will play St. John’s on Friday night before heading over to the State University of New Jersey.
The Zips went 18-1-3 last year and advanced to the third round of the College Cup, falling in penalty kicks to eventual final four participant Creighton. They return five starters and nine letterwinner from a team that held the No. 1 spot in the final regular season coaches poll.
Among the returnees are returning leading scorer and Hermann Trophy Watch List member senior forward Reinaldo Brenes. Brenes notched 17 goals and two assists a year ago. The Zips also returns College Soccer News and Top Draw Soccer preseason honorees in junior defender Bryan Gallego and senior forward Aodhan Quinn. Quinn recorded four goal and three assists last season. Quinn and Brenes have each found the back of the net once in 2013.
The Zips have won eight Mid-American Conference regular season and tournament championships and were picked to repeat titles in the MAC Preseason Poll. Akron has won an NCAA record 47 consecutive conference matches (44-0-3) dating back to the 2007 season.
Entering the weekend, the Zips are 2-0-0 on the season with a 2-0 victory over the College of Charleston and a 1-0 win vs. Furman at the Nike/Aaron Olitsky memorial Classic in South Carolina.
After serving as the top assistant and recruiting coordinator for the past six years, Jared Embick is in his first season as head coach of the Zips this fall.
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