Rutgers-Camden Top 10 in four rankings

CAMDEN, N.J. (Sept. 18, 2013) – The nation is beginning to realize the quality of the Rutgers University-Camden men’s soccer program.

With a record-tying 7-0 start, the Scarlet Raptors have vaulted into the Top 10 in four major Division III rankings released this week. Rutgers-Camden is ranked No. 6 by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America in its weekly NSCAA/Continental Tire NCAA Division III Men’s National Poll and is ranked No. 7 in the latest Top 25 poll. The Scarlet Raptors even received one of the 25 first-place votes in the poll – 23 of them went to top-ranked and defending national champion Messiah College and the other went to No. 2 Ohio Wesleyan.
sophomore forward Mike Ryan
The Scarlet Raptors also are among the nation’s top-ranked teams in the BennettRank College Soccer rankings and the Massey Ratings, logging in at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively.

The new rankings mark the 26th consecutive week that the Scarlet Raptors have appeared in one or both of the two major rankings, the NSCAA and the Top 25 polls, either in the top 25 or in the “also receiving votes” section, dating back to Sept. 13, 2011. For the past 24 weeks, they have been in the Top 25 in at least one of the polls, and they have been a Top 20 team in all four polls this season.

This week’s poll marks the first time the Raptors have been ranked in the Top 10 this season and the first time since they were No. 7 in the NSCAA poll on Nov. 6, 2012.

The current No. 6 ranking in the NSCAA poll is the highest for Rutgers-Camden since being tied for No. 6 on Sept. 25, 2012. The Raptors’ highest-ever NSCAA ranking is a tie for No. 4 in the 2012 pre-season poll.

In the poll, the Scarlet Raptors’ No. 7 ranking is their highest ever, passing the No. 8 ranking they achieved in both the final 2011 poll and the Sept. 11, 2012 poll.

Rutgers-Camden is also ranked No. 1 in the NSCAA South Atlantic Region for the first time since Nov. 6, 2012.

The Scarlet Raptors’ high rankings are the result of a 7-0 start which has tied program records for the best perfect start ever (tying the 2008 team) and the program’s longest winning streak of seven games, accomplished in 1983, 1986, 1988 and 2008.

The quick start also has stretched the Scarlet Raptors’ unbeaten string to 19 games, dating back to last season, to tie another program mark. The Raptors were 9-0-3 in their last 12 contests last season before their 7-0 start this season. The team hasn’t lost on the field since a 4-3 overtime defeat at Montclair State University on Sept. 29, 2012.

The 19-game unbeaten string tied the two-season mark set by clubs in 2003 (winning their last two games) and 2004 (opening the season with a 13-0-4 start).

Last week the Scarlet Raptors knocked off a pair of previously-undefeated teams when they posted a 5-0 victory at Eastern University (Sept. 11) and a 2-1 win over Salisbury University in Camden on Saturday. Salisbury entered that game ranked No. 16 in the poll.

Rutgers-Camden’s potent offense and stingy defense have allowed the Scarlet Raptors to out-score opponents, 25-5, in their opening seven games, including 19-1 in their last five games. The offense is led by sophomore forward Mike Ryan (Marlton, NJ/Cherokee), an All-American as a freshman who has eight goals and one assist for 17 points. Senior midfielder Mitch Grotti (Milmay, NJ/Millville), meanwhile, owns three goals and a team-high six assists for 12 points. His penalty kick goal against Salisbury on Saturday was the 43rd goal of his Raptor career, allowing him to tie George Scafidi (1974-77) for the program’s all-time record. Grotti also owns 106 career points, only four shy of the mark set by Mike Zeno from 1992-95.

Defensively, senior goalie Mike Randall (Cherry Hill, NJ/Cherry Hill East) has notched four shutouts and owns a 0.71 goals-against average in seven games.

Rutgers-Camden has earned a New Jersey Athletic Conference Player of the Week honor in each of the season’s three weeks so far this year, beginning with Ryan winning Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 2. Randall and junior back Joe Auleta (Atco, NJ/Hammonton) earned NJAC Defensive Player of the Week awards the past two weeks.

Rutgers-Camden will try to set new program records for winning streaks, undefeated streaks and the best perfect start when it hosts Manhattanville College tonight at 7 p.m.

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