With the end of the regular season quickly approaching, the University of Connecticut men’s soccer team returns home in desperate need of a big performance as they take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights under the lights on Wednesday night. The Huskies fell to conference rival Providence their last time on the field, losing a game in which they were significantly outshot and outplayed on the offensive end that saw them fall 2-1 on the road. Rutgers is coming off a tough loss themselves, as they continued their Big Ten slate against Michigan, faltering in Ann Arbor in a 2-1 loss to the Wolverines.
The Scarlet Knights are balanced on the offensive attack, with ten of their players finding the back of the net throughout the 2021 season. Rutgers’ key contributors include the likes of Nico Rosamilia, Thomas DeVizio, Ola Maeland and Jackson Temple, with Rosamilia and Temple leading the way in the goals department for their Scarlet Knight squad with three apiece.
The defensive anchor for Rutgers is goalkeeper Oren Asher. The junior from Israel is allowing just under a goal a game, tallying a 78% save percentage, securing 38 saves on his season. Asher has pitched six clean sheets for Rutgers, helping his squad secure an 8-4-2 record on the season. However, the conference affairs have been less kind to the Scarlet Knights, with the team falling to seventh in the Big Ten standings at a mark of 2-4-2, eight points behind conference leader Indiana.
The Scarlet Knights have found success away from Piscataway, achieving a 3-1-1 record on the season, with their two conference wins coming on the road at Indiana and Northwestern. Their out of conference record stands at an outstanding mark of 6-0-1, with their lone draw coming early on in the season against the American Athletic Conference’s Temple, a former rival of UConn.
For the Huskies, their season has been similarly structured to their upcoming opponent, notching a 4-1-0 record against non-conference opponents despite their struggles against fellow Big East schools. The Huskies will look to generate offense on the backs of Okem Chime, Jayden Reid and Moussa Wade, who lead UConn in points and make up three of the top five most active Huskies in the shot department, with Mateo Leveque and Dominic Laws rounding out the top five.
Goalkeeper Jahmali Waite has helped his Huskies squad stay competitive in all of their games thus far, with the highest amount of goals given up in a single game by the veteran defensive anchor remaining at two, pitching five clean sheets of his own, including one last week in the last-second, hard-fought UConn victory notched against Seton Hall in South Orange.
The key for the Huskies in this one is to create more opportunities for their offense to jump on Rutgers early, reversing the script from Saturday night that saw them struggle to create shots for themselves, especially in the second half where they needed it the most. UConn will look to cut back on the amount of foul calls that helped their opponent establish their own respective offensive gameplan, while maintaining a level of aggressiveness that will put them in the best position to win this last out of conference showdown at home, where they have a 5-2-2 record on the season overall.
In their matchup history, Rutgers and UConn have faced off 23 times, with the Huskies possessing a record of 12-10-1, including victories in four of their last five games against the Scarlet Knights. Their last matchup saw UConn come out on top 1-0 back in 2013.
The game will start at 6 p.m. on Wednesday night at Morrone Stadium, also being streamed on flosports.tv for those who are not able to see the matchup in person.