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Junior defender Alex Touche (right) scored the game-tying goal in the second half of Penn men's soccer's draw with Rutgers on Tuesday.

Credit: Joshua Berkowitz

Old habits die hard.

Penn men’s soccer's fourth game of the season against Rutgers on Tuesday night seemed like a page out of its book from the 2018 season. The teams played out both overtimes at Rhodes Field, ultimately tying with a score of 1-1. 

The first half started off slowly for Penn (2-1-1), as Rutgers (5-0-1) put in a penalty kick goal just ten minutes into the game.

Once the Scarlet Knights scored their initial goal, the Quakers began playing back on their heels. Rutgers controlled most of the possession for the next 10 minutes of play. The Quakers were able to prevent any serious scoring opportunities, but they remained unable to have any meaningful possessions.

The visitors’ groove was disrupted by a pass from Penn junior defender RC Williams to sophomore midfielder Anthony Rovito over the head of a Rutgers defender. Rovito was able to lay it off to sophomore midfielder Ben Stitz, but his tight-angled shot was parried away by Rutgers freshman goalkeeper Oren Asher.

The attempt caused a small momentum shift, however, as it allowed Penn to grab hold of possession time. The Quakers' stretch of possession was culminated by a curling cross from Rovito to the diving forehead of junior forward Jake Kohlbrenner. Asher had to make a diving save to keep the score at 1-0.

After halftime, Rutgers flew out of the gate with the first two opportunities. However, the Quakers prevented the Scarlet Knights from adding to their total and took momentum of the game in the 70th minute with the bread-and-butter scoring play of Penn’s 2018 season.

Senior captain and midfielder Brandon Bartel took a corner that connected to the head of junior defender and captain Alex Touche, who put the ball in the back of the net despite being surrounded by three Rutgers defenders.

“Bartel’s services have been really good in the past few games, so I was hoping I could reward him with a goal, and we got one,” Touche said.

Credit: Ari Stonberg

The end of regulation was filled with tension, as neither team was able to convert on their opportunities at net. The game went into overtime, a familiar concept for Penn's returning players.

Williams would catalyze the last solid opportunity of the night for the Red and Blue. After hustling to catch a long ball played from Bartel, he crossed the ball into scoring position, but the Quakers were unable to find the back of the net.

“I’m really happy with [Tuesday's game] in a lot of ways. I don’t know if it was our best soccer performance, although I think we created a good number of chances,” coach Brian Gill said. “Probably there will be a mood of disappointment in the locker room. There will be a lot of, ‘How can we be better with our final ball?’”

Bartel also expressed a desire to work harder for a better end result.

“I would’ve really liked for us to press a little bit more in the end, but I think it was a mature showing from the entire team, and I was proud of it,” Bartel said.

This is Penn’s first tie of the season after last year’s total of six, which was more than either wins or losses for the Quakers.

The Red and Blue will take the next few days to reset before another home outing against Temple on Saturday.

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