The Red Hawks were New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) champions in 2013. The past two seasons, they repeatedly went 4-2 in the NJAC Playoffs. As the NJAC games begin for Montclair State this season, the team will attempt to play for the top seed in the standings and compete for an NJAC Championship in the playoffs.
Overall, the Red Hawks are 9-3 for the season so far, but NJAC games have a much greater significance. The players know it and so do the coaches. The team is mentally set on winning the NJAC Championship, dating back since spring training, when they set out their goals for this season.
“We have our six cornerstone goals that we always relay back to, but those come with the intention of what we have to do in order to win the 2016 NJAC Championship,” Head Coach Eileen O’Reilly said.
Each returning member of the team was asked to pitch out goals in order to win the 2016 NJAC Championship. The team as a whole selected six total goals to lead them to an NJAC Championship. They set out to have outstanding fitness using directional and motivational communication. They want to play strong fundamental defense and execute the Montclair State field hockey system.
They also want to play possession hockey. As a team they all want to be consistent and poised to perform. As teammates they want to be positive, coachable, hardworking and unselfish.
The team got off to a good start on Saturday when they played their first NJAC game of the season against Stockton University. Montclair won 3-0. The intensity was displayed from the very first moments of the game. Montclair came out aggressively attacking, and scored all three goals in the first half.
The veteran players all contributed immensely during the first NJAC game. Senior midfielder Camille Maimone scored the first goal of her career. Senior forward Danielle Butrico scored a goal and assisted on Maimone’s goal. Junior forward Kaitlyn Struss continued her stellar season with a goal of her own.
The younger players, especially the freshmen, are new to the excitement and intensity of NJAC play. Freshman forward Kelly Watson came to Montclair State from a big field hockey high school. She knew the NJAC games would be intense, but did not imagine to what extent that would reach when the games finally began.
“The first couple of games here were an awesome experience, but it was nothing like this. Now that NJAC season has started it is a whole new experience,” Watson said. “Walking into the locker room and seeing it all decorated with streamers and balloons, I knew the time leading up to the game would be crazy. I felt that our team was really prepared to go out and win this first conference game.”
On Wednesday, the Red Hawks faced off against the William Paterson Pioneers in their second NJAC game of the season.
Montclair State defeated William Paterson 3-2. Butrico scored twice in the exhilarating NJAC contest. The Red Hawks found themselves down early in the game after the Pioneers scored in the 16th minute. But Butrico later scored a pair of goals in a span of two minutes about 15 minutes later. Senior midfielder Megan Roeloffs scored the third and final goal for the Red Hawks before the end of the first half. William Paterson got a shot in the net in the second half, but it was not enough, as the Red Hawks improved to 2-0 in the NJAC.
“Winning the NJAC championship would be an amazing award to my teammates and I to prove how hard we have worked over the past few months,” Struss said. “It would prove the skill, dedication and strength of my teammates and I. Winning the NJAC would prove to all division 3 schools how good of a program Montclair State has and that we should not be overlooked. Our goal is to be the best.”
The Red Hawks will play their third NJAC game on Saturday at The College of New Jersey at 1 p.m.