Rutgers-Camden advances to NJAC championship game
CAMDEN, N.J. (Nov. 6, 2013) – The top-seeded Rutgers University-Camden men's soccer team collected two goals in each half and went on to eliminate No. 4 seed The College of New Jersey, 4-1, here Wednesday night in a New Jersey Athletic Conference Men's Soccer semifinal game.
The Scarlet Raptors, who improve to 18-0-2, advance to the NJAC championship game, which they will host on Saturday at 1 p.m., trying to win their third consecutive conference title. Rutgers-Camden will face No. 3 seed Rutgers-Newark, which posted its own 4-1 win over #2 seed Montclair State University Wednesday night.
TCNJ, which had tied Rutgers-Camden during the regular season, 1-1 in double overtime on Oct. 2 in Ewing, falls to 12-6-2.
The meeting was only the second time the two teams have played in the NJAC playoffs. TCNJ captured a 1-0 victory on its field in the 2005 conference championship game. Overall, the Lions lead the all-time series between the conference rivals, 22-7-5.
The Raptors, ranked No. 3 in the D3soccer.com Top 25 and No. 4 in the NSCAA national poll, extended their two-year unbeaten string to 32 games (27-0-5), aided by single goals from senior midfielder Keegan Balle (Naperville, IL/Neuqua Valley), sophomore midfielders Connor Hurff (Sewell, NJ/St. Augustine Prep) and Jake Dowiak (Moorestown, NJ/Moorestown) and sophomore forward Mike Ryan (Marlton, NJ/Cherokee).
Senior midfielder Mitch Grotti (Milmay, NJ/Millville) collected two assists to hike his team-leading total to nine, while senior back Bobby Foster (Burlington, NJ/Burlington Township) added one assist.
TCNJ spoiled the Raptors' bid for their 11th shutout of the season when junior midfielder Kevin McCartney (Old Bridge, NJ/St. Joseph's) scored a goal with 2:51 remaining, assisted by senior forward Kevin Shaw (Brookside, NJ/West Morris Mendham).
Balle put the Scarlet Raptors ahead to stay at 25:16, following a corner kick by Grotti that was headed down into the box by Foster. Balle drilled in his fourth goal of the season.
Eight minutes later, Ryan and a TCNJ back were battling for possession in the box and Hurff ran onto the loose ball near the left side of the goal and drilled a shot into the far side for his sixth goal of the season.
Dowiak made it a 3-0 game with 20:08 remaining, converting a cross from Grotti for his second goal of the year. Ryan capped the scoring at 83:26 on a breakaway to the right side, pulling TCNJ senior goalie Aaron Utman (Pennington, NJ/Hopewell Valley) out of the net and tapping into an open goal. It was the 19th goal of the season for Ryan, tying Grotti's single-season program mark set in 2011.
McCartney's third goal of the season, a shot into the left corner from just inside the box, came at 87:09.
TCNJ held a 17-14 edge in shots and Rutgers-Camden had a 5-3 lead in corner kicks.
Raptor senior goalie Mike Randall (Cherry Hill, NJ/Cherry Hill East) made six saves while posting his 18th victory of the season, one shy of the program record. Utman had five saves for the Lions.