Rutgers-Camden ready for NCAA Tournament
CAMDEN, N.J. (Nov. 11, 2013) – After sweeping through the regular season and the conference championships with an undefeated record, Rutgers University-Camden is ready for the big dance in the NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Championship.
The Scarlet Raptors, with a 19-0-2 record, have drawn one of the three first-round byes in the 61-team field. They will host a second-round game Sunday, Nov. 17, at 1 p.m., against the winner of the first-round matchup between Lycoming College (10-7-1, the Commonwealth Conference champions) and King’s College (11-4-5, the Freedom Conference winners). That game will be played Thursday at 6 p.m. at King’s field in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
The Scarlet Raptors, who captured the New Jersey Athletic Conference title for the third consecutive season, enter the NCAA tournament with a seven-game winning streak. They were ranked No. 3 in the D3soccer.com Top 25 poll on Nov. 5 and No. 4 in the NSCAA national poll. They will bring a two-year unbeaten string of 33 games (28-0-5) into the NCAA tournament, the second-longest current active streak in Division III behind Amherst College’s 37.
Rutgers-Camden heads into the NCAA tournament trying to extend the best season in program history. The Scarlet Raptors already have set program records for the longest winning streak and best perfect start to a season (11 wins to open the campaign) and the longest single-season unbeaten streak (21, at 19-0-2), while tying the program record of 19 wins, set in 2011. With 57 goals, they are one shy of the single-season mark set in 2005, while their 11 shutouts are one shy of the 1981 team record. They also enter post-season play with 40 assists (the team mark is 49, set in 2007) and 154 points (163, in 2005). With a team goals-against average of 0.65, the Raptors also have a shot to take down the program mark of 0.64, set in 2004.
Individually, senior goalie Mike Randall (Cherry Hill, NJ/Cherry Hill East) has tied program single-season goalkeeper marks for wins (he owns all 19 victories while playing every minute in goal this season) and shutouts (11, tying the mark set by Jim Skene in 1981 and tied by Tim VanLiew in 2011). Randall’s 0.65 goals-against average currently is the lowest season mark in program history and has helped him enter the tournament with the lowest career GAA (0.68) of any Rutgers-Camden goalie playing in the NCAA career minimum of 2500 minutes. He also ranks second in career goalie wins (36) and third in shutouts (20).
The NCAA opener will be the 89th career game for senior midfielder Mitch Grotti (Milmay, NJ/Millville), which will tie the program record set by VanLiew from 2008-11. Grotti also enters the third straight NCAA tournament of his career with program career records for goals (47), game-winning goals (19) and points (117). He ranks fifth in program history with 23 assists.
Earlier Monday, Grotti was named the NJAC Men’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Week, while senior midfielder Keegan Balle (Naperville, IL/Neuqua Valley) was the conference’s Defensive Player of the Week.
Sophomore forward Mike Ryan (Marlton, NJ/Cherokee) leads the team in scoring this season with 19 goals, eight game-winning goals and 42 points. He already has tied the single-season goal-scoring mark set by Grotti in 2011 and is one game-winning goal and three points away from Grotti’s program marks from that season. In only his second season with the Scarlet Raptors, Ryan already ranks among the program’s career leaders with 36 goals (fifth), 91 points (fifth) and 12 game-winning goals (tied for second).
Grotti is second on the game in scoring this season with seven goals and a team-leading nine assists for 23 points. A pair of midfielders, sophomore Connor Hurff (Sewell, NJ/St. Augustine Prep) and senior Stevan Austino (Buena, NJ/Buena Regional) are tied for third on the team in scoring with 14 points apiece. Hurff has six goals and two assists, while Austino has five goals and four assists. Balle is fifth in scoring (5-2-12), followed by junior back/midfielder Joe Auleta (Atco, NJ/Hammonton) with one goal and six assists for eight points.
Five Raptors have started all 21 games this season: Ryan, Grotti, Hurff, Auleta and Randall. Ryan, Grotti and Auleta earned NJAC First Team honors, with Ryan capturing Co-Offensive Player of the Year and Auleta adding the NJAC’s David Logar Leadership Award.
Randall and senior back Bobby Foster (Burlington, NJ/Burlington Township) were named to the NJAC Second Team, while Balle and junior back/midfielder Eric Cutry (Medford Lakes, NJ/Shawnee) were NJAC Honorable Mention.
Eighth-year Raptors mentor Tim Oswald earned his second NJAC Coach of the Year honor in three seasons. He enters the NCAA Tournament with a stellar 118-38-22 career record at Rutgers-Camden.