Raptors ride Ryan's hat trick to undefeated regular season
CAMDEN, N.J. (Oct. 30, 2013) – When you’re ranked among the nation’s top teams and seemingly setting new program standards with every passing game, it isn’t easy to find new hurdles to clear.
The Rutgers University-Camden men’s soccer team, however, added another accomplishment to its legacy here Wednesday night in a New Jersey Athletic Conference game. Riding a hat trick by sophomore forward Mike Ryan (Marlton, NJ/Cherokee), the Scarlet Raptors posted a 5-0 victory over conference rival New Jersey City University to become the first team in program history to complete an undefeated regular season.
The Raptors, ranked No. 3 in the D3soccer.com Top 25 and No. 4 in the NSCAA national poll, hiked their record to 17-0-2 overall and 7-0-2 in NJAC play, while nailing down the top seed for the conference tournament, which begins Saturday. Rutgers-Camden draws a first-round bye and will host a semifinal game Wednesday at 6 p.m.
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New Jersey City closes its season with a 7-10-1 record overall and a 2-7 mark in the conference.
Rutgers-Camden, the two-time defending NJAC champion, posted an undefeated record during regular-season NJAC play for the second time in its history…and the second time in three years. The 2011 team went 6-0-2 in an eight-game NJAC schedule, since one team was ineligible for conference play that season.
The seven NJAC wins also ties the most in program history for Rutgers-Camden, which started play in the conference in 1982. The 1988 squad went 7-2 to finish third in the NJAC.
Not only did the Raptors finish the regular season undefeated, but they also ran their two-year unbeaten string to 31 games (26-0-5) and extended their own single-season marks for the longest undefeated string and undefeated start, at 19 games each.
The Scarlet Raptors lead the all-time series against NJCU, 21-8-8, including 7-0-4 in the last 11 games.
The Raptors’ 31-game undefeated string now ties them for 10th on the all-time NCAA Division III list with UC-San Diego (Sept. 7, 1988-Sept. 22, 1989) and Messiah (Sept. 27, 2000-Oct. 20, 2001). Earlier this season, Messiah had another streak of 33 games snapped, and the current longest active streak belongs to Amherst College, which defeated Trinity Wednesday afternoon to raise its record to 12-0-2 and extend its two-year unbeaten streak to 34 games.
In a game that celebrated Senior Night for Scarlet Raptors Stevan Austino (Buena, NJ/Buena Regional), Keegan Balle (Naperville, IL/Neuqua Valley), Forrest Bennfors (Woking, England/Madison), Bobby Foster (Burlington, NJ/Burlington Township), Mitch Grotti (Milmay, NJ/Millville), Matt Macey (Bridgeton, NJ/St. Augustine Prep), Taylor McGrory (Collingswood, NJ/Sterling) and Mike Randall (Cherry Hill, NJ/Cherry Hill East), Ryan was the offensive star with three first-half goals. He notched his first career hat trick at Rutgers-Camden and the Raptors’ first hat trick since Grotti accomplished the feat against St. Joseph’s-Long Island on Sept. 8, 2012.
Early in the first half, Foster notched the eventual game-winning goal by heading in a restart from junior midfielder Joe Auleta (Atco, NJ/Hammonton) at 5:21. Ryan notched the next three goals, starting at 11:26 when he finished off a drop pass from junior back Eric Cutry (Medford Lakes, NJ/Shawnee). Ryan struck again at 19:32 off an assist from Auleta, and he completed his hat trick at 25:52, deflecting in a through ball by senior midfielder Balle. Ryan hiked his season total to 18 goals, one shy of Grotti’s single-season program record his in 2011.
Bennfors notched the lone second-half goal at 80:12, scoring on a bullet into the left side following a handball out of the box by NJCU junior goalie Ruben Morales (Princeton, NJ/Princeton).
Randall finished with four saves in the Raptor goal while notching his 10th shutout of the season. He’s only the third keeper in program history to reach double-digits in shutouts and is one shy of a two-way tie for the season mark.
Morales made 11 saves for the Gothic Knights as Rutgers-Camden held a 25-14 advantage in shots and a 6-4 lead in corner kicks.