Rutgers outshot UCLA, 11-3, in the second half, but it was the final two shots that made the difference. With time winding down, Guy Abrahamson (Livingston, NJ) broke free on the left side of the box and blasted a shot from 10 yards out, which UCLA goalkeeper Zach Wells fumbled as he dove towards the near post. At that point, Gros swooped in and corralled the loose ball, flicking it into the far corner to tie the match at the 87:57 mark. The RU goal equalized an earlier score by UCLA, as Tim Pierce took a long feed from Matt Taylor at the 59:43 mark and scored his team-leading sixth goal of the year.
Both teams used an aggressive attack in the opening half and were rewarded with strong scoring chances. UCLA took the first two shots of the match, but Rutgers awoke eight minutes into the match as freshman Sammy Castellanos (Philadelphia, PA) and sophomore Chris Karcz (Clifton, NJ) led the attack. The Bruins nearly took an early lead in the 23rd minute, but Ricky Zinter (Penfield, NY) made a diving save on a shot by Jordan Harvey. Less than a minute later, UCLA came close again, as Scot Thompson’s header caromed off the cross-bar. Rutgers’ best chance came 20:28 into the game, when Karcz’s header sailed wide off a feed from Wes Kirk (Bloomfield, NJ).
In the overtime period, the senior duo of Abrahamson and Zinter led the way, as Rutgers’ defense stopped a resilient UCLA attack. Zinter made a remarkable diving save on a shot by Mike Enfield in the first overtime, and then, with just 1:10 left to play in the second OT period, Zinter punched away an eight-yard blast from Adolfo Gregorio from point-blank range.
“We were thin tonight, but got a tie because of pride,” said head coach Bob Reasso. “This team has a lot of pride in itself and it refused to give up. (Ricky) Zinter played the best match of his career tonight, which played a big part.”
UCLA held a 22-20 edge in shots as well as a 7-5 advantage in corner kicks. Zinter turned away eight shots, as did Wells, his UCLA counterpart. Tonight’s match signaled the return of junior Matt Veltri (Sussex, NJ), who had left the team to concentrate on his collegiate wrestling career. Veltri came off the bench for RU and saw significant minutes up front.
The Classic will conclude on Sunday, as No. 1 SJU faces UCLA at 1:00 p.m. and Rutgers/ODU at 3:00 p.m.
FIRST GAME – SJU 4, ODU 0
In the first match of the night, top-ranked St. John’s registered a 4-0 win over Old Dominion, as four different Red Storm players notched goals. SJU, which outshot ODU 20-7, scored at the 44:15 mark on a goal by Chris Corcoran, while Angel Rodriguez (50:28), Simone Salinno (52:23) and Rich Bradley (64:58) also found the back of the net.