PISCATAWAY, N.J. (October 8, 2013) – The Rutgers men’s soccer team hits a crucial stretch of the season as they hit the road this week against a pair of Top 25 American Athletic Conference (AAC) opponents. The Scarlet Knights travel to No. 15 Connecticut for a match-up with the Huskies on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
* Live video and stats will be available at UConnHuskies.com.
* The Scarlet Knights enter Wednesday’s match-up sporting a 5-5-1 overall record and 2-1-0 mark in the AAC. RU has won their last two AAC match-ups with 1-0 victories over Memphis and Cincinnati.
* Mitchell Taintor lifted Rutgers to a 1-0 victory over Cincinnati in their last outing. Mael Corboz picked up his team-leading fourth assist and Thomas O’Rourke his first points of the season in setting up the game-winning goal.
* Goalkeeper David Greczek made four saves in net for this third shutout of the season in win over the Bearcats. Greczek also logged shutouts against South Carolina and Memphis this season. He holds a 1.29 goals against average and .770 save percentage.
* Mael Corboz continues to lead the Scarlet Knights with 14 points (5G, 4A) followed by senior forward Kene Eze with 10 points (4G, 2A). In all 11 Scarlet Knights have logged points on the season.
Following RU’s game at UConn, the Scarlet Knights travel to Louisville on Saturday. The Cardinals are ranked No. 11 by the NSCAA and No. 19 by Soccer America.
ABOUT THE HUSKIES
Ranked 15th by Soccer America, UConn enters Wednesday’s showdown with a 3-2-4 overall record and are still looking for its first conference victory after opening AAC play with three straight ties. The Huskies tied USF and Temple on the road 1-1 while playing to a 2-2 stalemate against UCF last Saturday.
Rookie midfielder Cyle Larin leads the Huskies with seven points (3G, 1A) followed by junior midfielder Edir DaGraca with three points (1G, 1A). In goal, junior Andre Blake is posting a 0.71 goals against average and .611 save percentage along with three shutouts.
UConn was the unanimous preseason favorite in the AAC Preseason Poll after concluding 2012 with a record of 17-4-1 and advancing to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the 13th time in program history.
The Scarlet Knights trail the Huskies 10-11-1 in the all-time series. The two squads last met in the quarterfinals on the 2011 BIG EAST Tournament. Wednesday is the first regular season conference meeting between them since 2009.
LAST TIME VS. UCONN
The Rutgers men’s soccer team saw its run in the BIG EAST Championship come to an end with a 3-1 loss to No. 7 Connecticut Nov. 6, 2011 at Yurcak Field en route to earning an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament.
The quarterfinals matchup between the Scarlet Knights and Huskies was a battle from the opening whistle as tempers flared between both sides throughout the match.
The match was a tale of two halves with Connecticut holding a slight edge in shot opportunities in the first half, leading 5-3. The Scarlet Knights forced UConn goalkeeper Andre Blake into two first-half saves as it remained scoreless in the opening period.
With the score knotted at 0-0 to start the second half, Rutgers struck first as forward Kene Eze provided the Scarlet Knights with his team-leading sixth goal of the season to put RU ahead 1-0 in the 51st minute. Senior midfielder and current first-year graduate assistant Bryant Knibbs sent a cross into the box where it met Eze on the right side. Eze send a shot past the goalkeeper inside the left post.
However, Connecticut responded just over a minute later on a set piece to tie the game at 1-1. The Huskies were awarded a corner kick in the 52nd minute as Andrew Jean-Baptiste scored on a pass from Tony Cascio. UConn posted an 11-4 advantage in shots (16-7 for the game) and an 8-1 edge in corner kicks.
A LOOK AT CONFERENCE STATS
As a team, the Scarlet Knights are second in the American goals (15) and third in points (41).
Individually, sophomore midfielder Mael Corboz is tied for the league lead in points (14), tied for the conference lead in goals (5) and in a three-way tie for second in assists (4). Meanwhile senior forward Kene Eze, who returned to the field last Saturday against Cincinnati after missing three games, is tied for fifth in points (10) and goals (4).
Freshman goalkeeper David Greczek is second among AAC netiminders with 47 saves, averaging 4.36 per game. He has also logged three shutouts this season.
AGAINST RANKED TEAMS
The Scarlet Knights are 1-1-0 against the Top 25 in 2013. Then-No. 5 Akron needed double overtime to defeat RU, 2-1, while the Scarlet Knights took a 1-0 victory at then-No. 19 Memphis two weeks ago.
ON THE ROAD
Rutgers is 1-2-1 away from the friendly confines of Yurcak Field. The Scarlet Knights picked up their first road win in their last road game, a 1-0 shutout of then-No. 19 Memphis.
TAKING ON THE ALMA MATER:
Rutgers head coach Dan Donigan will be taking on his alma mater on Wednesday. Donigan was one of the most heralded collegiate soccer players at the University of Connecticut from 1985-88 where he was a three-time All-American and First Team All-New England forward. He also was selected as the BIG EAST Conference Northern Division Player of the Year in his final two seasons. As part of the BIG EAST’s 10-year anniversary in 1991, Donigan was further honored by his selection as the BIG EAST Player of the Decade.
Donigan received the Adidas Adi Dassler Award as the nation’s “Most Outstanding Senior Soccer Player” in 1988. He also was one of 11 players selected as a 1988 Soccer America MVP, registering team highs of 11 goals and 11 assists while leading UConn to its third NCAA Tournament berth in four seasons. An All-America pick his final three seasons, Donigan was a finalist for Missouri Athletic Club Player of the Year honors as a junior and senior. He finished his career at Connecticut with 35 goals and 40 assists for 110 points. In the UConn record book, he ranks sixth in all-time scoring, third in career assists and tied for ninth in career goals.
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