Rutgers-Camden wins third straight NJAC championship
CAMDEN, N.J. (Nov. 9, 2013) – The first post-season championship meeting ever between teams from Rutgers University-Camden and Rutgers-Newark had to wait a little longer to begin due to transportation problems for the Scarlet Raiders.
The hour-long delay turned out to be worth the wait for Rutgers-Camden.
The Scarlet Raptors scored the only two goals of the game within the first 5:48 of the game here Saturday afternoon. They went on to defeat the Scarlet Raiders, 2-0, to capture their third consecutive New Jersey Athletic Conference championship.
The victory earns Rutgers-Camden the conference's automatic berth in the upcoming NCAA tournament, while Rutgers-Newark will wait until Monday's selection show to see if it also was picked for the post-season event.
The Scarlet Raptors, who have won seven straight games, improve to 19-0-2 overall, tying the program's single-season record for victories set in 2011. Rutgers-Camden, ranked No. 3 in the D3soccer.com Top 25 and No. 4 in the NSCAA national poll, extended its two-year unbeaten string to 33 games (28-0-5), the second-longest current active streak in Division III behind Amherst College, which stretched its streak to 36 games Saturday.
Rutgers-Newark, which saw a four-game winning streak snapped, falls to 17-5-1 in its first-ever NJAC men's soccer championship appearance. The Scarlet Raiders were shut out for the first time this season as Rutgers-Camden senior goalie Mike Randall (Cherry Hill, NJ/Cherry Hill East) made six saves to tie the Raptors' single-season goalie mark of 11 shutouts. The mark was set in 1981 by Jim Skene and tied in 2011 by current Assistant Coach Tim VanLiew.
The Scarlet Raptors didn't waste any time jumping on the scoreboard as sophomore forward Mike Ryan (Marlton, NJ/Cherokee) drove toward the goal and twisted around a Newark defender at the top of the box. The defender drew a handball penalty after his fall, giving a penalty kick to senior midfielder Mitch Grotti (Milmay, NJ/Millville). Grotti, who is 5-for-5 on penalty kicks this season, took advantage of the opportunity to notch his seventh goal of the season. The PK, only 2:14 into the contest, raised the career totals to 47 goals and 117 points for Grotti, the program's all-time leader in both categories.
It wasn't long before the Scarlet Raptors tacked on another goal, following a throw-in from the right side by junior midfielder Joe Auleta (Atco, NJ/Hammonton). Auleta's throw-in, into a crowded box, found senior midfielder Keegan Balle (Naperville, IL/Neuqua Valley) near the far post and he finished for his fifth goal of the season.
Both teams had plenty of opportunities to turn the game into an offensive showdown, but several missed golden opportunities, blocked shots and six goalie saves by both Randall and Newark sophomore Matt Broomall (Somers Point, NJ/Mainland Regional) kept it a 2-0 contest. Newark also hit the left post on a shot with 28 minutes remaining in the second half.
For the game, Newark held a 21-19 edge in shots and both teams took three corner kicks.
The win was the Raptors' second close victory against the Raiders this season. Rutgers-Camden posted a 4-3 victory in the first overtime at Rutgers-Newark on Sept. 21.
The Scarlet Raptors lead the all-time series, 27-11-2.