Defender Shavar Thomas began the pivotal play by sending a pass into the box for Ralph, whose high kick found the upper left side of the goal. The goal, which left RU defenseless due to its placement, was the 15th of the season for Ralph.
With the exception of that goal, the match was evenly played, although Connecticut held a 17-14 edge in shots. Ricky Zinter (Penfield, NY) played an outstanding game in goal, making seven saves, including back-to-back second-half breakaways by Cesar Cuellar and Ralph to keep the Scarlet Knights within striking distance.
“I thought we played very well today but in the end, we didn’t step up and score,” said head coach Bob Reasso. “We played a very talented team today and gave a really good effort. We had some nice chances, especially at the end, but once again we couldn’t finish them.”
Rutgers did receive outstanding work from Josh Gros (Mechanicsburg, PA), who led the team with four shots, one which nearly found its way past UC goalkeeper Adam Schuerman midway through the second half. Chris Karcz (Clifton, NJ) was gritty up front, nearly connecting on a header with 10 minutes remaining that ultimately sailed wide right.
The loss is the first ever for Rutgers in the quarterfinals; entering today’s match, RU was a perfect 7-0 in BIG EAST in opening round contests. It was also the ninth match of the year vs. a nationally-ranked opponent, as RU fell to 1-5-3 in those games.
The semifinals and finals of the BIG EAST Men’s Soccer Championship will take place at Rutgers’ Yurcak Field on Friday, November 15 and Sunday, November 17.