LOUISVILLE, Ky. (November 8, 2013) – Trailing 1-0 in the early moments of the second half, the Rutgers men’s soccer team rallied with five unanswered goals, including four by senior forward Kene Eze (Sayreville, N.J.), to down Cincinnati, 5-1, in the play-in game of the American Athletic Conference Tournament at Cardinal Park on Friday afternoon.
The eighth-seeded Scarlet Knights advance to play top-seeded Louisville on Saturday night at 7 p.m.
The win saw RU snap a six-game winless streak and improve to 6-10-2 overall. Ninth-seeded Cincinnati ends its 2013 season at 6-12-1.
Eze finished the game with eight points, a new career mark for the senior Scarlet Knight. His previous game best was six points stemming from a trio of goals in a 3-3 tie with Adelphi back on Sept. 27, 2011.
Eze’s four goals were also the most by a player in the American this season, surpassing the previous high of three netted by Jared Martinelli of Temple against Wofford on Sept. 6 and SMU’s Leobardo Vazquez at Cincinnati on Oct. 12.
Rutgers’ five goals were the most in a game since the Scarlet Knights logged a 6-1 victory over Cleveland State back on Oct. 3, 2006.
After a scoreless opening half, Cincinnati took a 1-0 lead in the second minute of the second half. The Bearcats’ Peter Jannelli beat a pair of RU defenders to position himself inside the box and reach the back of the Scarlet Knight net eight yards out from the right post in the 47th minute.
Less than two minutes later, the score was tied up at 1-1 on the first of Eze’s tallies. After sophomore defender Drew Morgan’s (Atlanta, Ga.) shot hit the cross bar off a corner attempt, Eze collected the rebound and placed the ball inside the right post from 10-yards out.
Morgan went on to register the game-winner on not only his first goal of the season, but the first goal of his career. Set up by a corner kick in the 63rd minute from sophomore Mael Corboz (Green Brook, N.J.), Morgan sent a header from the left side into the back of the Bearcat goal.
Following Morgan’s game-winner, Eze went on a scoring frenzy with back-to-back-to-back goals in the span of just under 13 minutes.
Junior midfielder Nate Bruccoleri (Bordentown, N.J.) ran up the left side of the field to feed Eze for his second goal of the afternoon in the 68th minute of action. Eze added in his third goal in the game’s 75th minute, recovering a loose ball from the Cincinnati defense, and put away his fourth goal after redshirt freshman Kiernan Kemmerer (Belle Meade, N.J.) ran the ball up the right side to find Eze inside the box in the 81st minute.
Rutgers ended the game outshooting the Bearcats, 18-12. Eze finished the game with nine of RU’s 18 shots, including five on goal. He now has 19 points on the season (8G, 3A).
RU also held a 9-6 advantage in corner kicks.
Freshman goalkeeper David Greczek (Fairfield, N.J.) was solid in goal for the Scarlet Knights making six stops in the win. His counterpart, Alex Gill, made four saves in the loss.
"We have a very capable team," said head coach Dan Donigan following the win. "We need to recover and rejuvenate for our match with Louisville tomorrow night. Our guys are excited about this opportunity to fight for another chance to continue to play. I credit the players for playing, working and fighting hard today."
Click here for the 2013 AAC Tournament Central page. Information on all nine AAC teams, twitter feed of the championships and tournament bracket all available.
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