In 2001, Rutgers ended Connecticut’s National season with a 2-1, triple-overtime win in the second round of NCAA Tournament action, as Dennis Ludwig scored twice to upend the defending National Champions. The win, which also represented head coach Bob Reasso’s 300th career victory, came just nine days after the Huskies handed Rutgers a 1-0 loss in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Tournament, also played in Storrs. UC also won the regular season meeting, 1-0.
Rutgers is 8-7-3 overall after dropping a 3-2 decision to Boston College on Monday night. Rutgers fell behind 3-0 early in the second half, but fought back with goals from Josh Gros (Mechanicsburg, PA) and Scott Gahagan (Old Bridge, NJ). The Scarlet Knights enjoyed a 33-9 edge in shots, but could not break through for the tying goal, despite several key chances.
Freshman Sam Castellanos (Philadelphia, PA) leads the team with 17 points (6g, 5a), while Chris Karcz (Clifton, NJ) is second with 15 points (6g, 3a). Castellanos is the younger brother of David Castellanos, who played for Connecticut for two seasons (2000, 2001). Gros has scored five times in the last three games, including a hat trick in a 7-1 win at Princeton on October 30, and is third on the team with 15 points (6g, 1a). Senior Sherif El Bialy (Cairo, Egypt) is fourth at 11 points (4g, 3a), rounding out the double-figure scorers. Senior Ricky Zinter (Penfield, NY) owns a 1.24 GAA in net, playing all but 23 minutes this season.
Rutgers was struck hard by injuries this season, as seven players missed time during the season. A pair of senior backs – Todd Moser (Fanwood, NJ) and David Boutilier (Sparta, NJ) – are out of action for the remainder of the year. Moser is red-shirting with a leg fracture while Boutilier has suffered through post-concussion syndrome and will not return to the field. In addition, sophomore winger Gustavo Mora (Asuncion, Paraguay) has seen just five minutes of action since the Sept. 21 Georgetown match due to a hamstring injury. After a pair of 1-0 losses to South Carolina and Penn, Rutgers’ offense has stepped up over the last four matches, scoring 13 goals while posting a 3-1 record.
Connecticut is dominant as usual, riding a three-match winning streak following a pair of 1-0 losses to Notre Dame and St. John’s. The Huskies have outscored their opponents 41-14 this season, led by Damani Ralph (14g, 4a) and St. Benedict’s product Cesar Cuellar (13g, 3a). Ten of Cuellar’s goals have come in BIG EAST play. Anthony Curtis and Andres Rota control the midfield, combining for 14 assists. UConn has allowed more than one goal just three times this season and owns eight shutout victories. Adam Schuerman has seen all but 15 minutes of action in goal, posting a 0.83 GAA.
Rutgers and Connecticut are tied at 8-8-1 in the series, although RU and has won five of the last eight meetings. Saturday will represent the second BIG EAST Tournament meeting between the two schools. Rutgers has played just one other BIG EAST Quarterfinal match on the road (2000). That year, the seventh-seeded Scarlet Knights defeated second-seeded St. Johns, 3-2, behind a pair of goals from El Bialy.