December 24, 2011
THE YEAR'S BEST -- NO. 7
Rutgers men enjoy magical NCAA run
Not rated highly prior to the season, the Rutgers University men certainly made some headlines and turned some heads in the NCAA Division I soccer tournament by reaching the third round for the first time since 2001.
The Scarlet Knights' magical run ended with a 3-0 loss to No. 5 UCLA on Nov. 27.
“It was unfortunate to bow out that way,” Rutgers coach Dan Donigan said. “I am still very, very proud of this group and I’ll still look back on this season as a success. We will continue to build off this and improve our program. Hats off to UCLA, because they are a very good soccer team and they deserve to move on to the Elite Eight.”
The Scarlet Knights (10-7-1) began their run with a 4-2 first-round victory over Colgate (11-5-6). It was the first tournament appearance since 2006 and first win since the 2003 season.
"I told them when I came here I wanted them to be a part of taking this program back to national prominence," Donigan said. "No, we’re not there yet but we’re certainly on our way. I’m indebted to these guys for that.”
Rutgers continued its roll as it advanced past No. 4 seed Boston College, 4-3, on penalty kicks in the second round. Senior Ibrahim Kamara (North Brunswick, N.J.) scored in the 86th minute to tie it at 1-1 and give the Scarlet Knights a chance in overtime. Redshirt junior goalkeeper Kevin McMullen (Blackwood, N.J.) was major for Rutgers in the match, posting five saves as well as stonewalling two shots in the penalty shootout.
“It’s fun being with this team and with this program,” Donigan said. “Obviously success helps everything and it makes things that much nicer but these kids don’t want this season to end and I don’t think any of us associated with [the program] wants it to end. I’m proud of them because they showed great fight against an exceptional team. It will be a signature win for our program, there’s no doubt about that but hopefully we’re not done yet.”
The Scarlet Knights began their run with a 4-2 first-round victory over Colgate (11-5-6). It was the first tournament appearance since 2006 and first win since the 2003 season.
I told them when I came here I wanted them to be a part of taking this program back to national prominence. No, we’re not there yet but we’re certainly on our way. I’m indebted to these guys for that.”
The Scarlet Knights were led by freshman forward Juan Pablo Correa (Montville, N.J.) with 17 points on six goals and team-best five assists. Second was sophomore forward Kene Eze (Sayreville, N.J.) who had 15 points on six goals to go along with three assists. Kamara was third in scoring with four goals and four assists. Three of his four goals were game-winners - the most on the squad.