Women’s Soccer Makes NJAC Championship Tournament

By Adam Grassani, Staff Writer

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Photo Courtesy of montclairathletics.com

The women’s soccer team has had quite an impressive run this season, to say the least.

The Red Hawks finished the regular season with a 9-4-4 record, 6-1-2 in their conference, which is good enough for a spot in the 2017 New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Women’s Soccer Championship.

The team started off rough going 2-3-2 in the first seven games of the season. However, after those initial growing pains the team caught fire, going 7-1-2 for the rest of the season. The team went undefeated in six straight games before a tough overtime loss to The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), who finished the season undefeated at 16-0.

“We have the second toughest schedule in the region,” said women’s soccer head coach Patrick Naughter. “It’s been a grind. That’s why it kind of explains the record a little bit. We’re battle-tested. Kids know it’s gonna be tough playing games, especially in our conference. There’s no quick turnaround.”

Afterward, the team bounced back with a huge win over Mount St. Mary College with a final score of 3-1, snapping their 10-game win streak. Melanie Cunha got the Red Hawks on the board early when Mount St. Mary goalkeeper Mary Riley fumbled a save, which sophomore forward Emily Beenders stole and passed to Cunha for the easy goal. Not long after, Cunha scored again dribbling past Mount St. Mary defenders for a laser shot. Minutes later, Montclair State added one more insurance goal when both Beenders and Christine Mayorga got on the fastbreak. Beenders passed it to Mayorga to bury the last goal the Red Hawks needed for the win. Even though they never scored for the rest of the game, Montclair State continued to play very well.

“I thought the kids came out and played really well right off the bat,” Naughter said. “First time we got an early goal so that was certainly a big help. Mount St. Mary’s is 13-2 coming in. They tied Rowan, who is a very good team. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, so I thought we did a great job generating chances.”

Montclair State went on to win it’s next two games to finish the season undefeated in nine out of their last 10 games. It’s been an impressive season for Beenders, who leads the team with 11 goals. She’s also has seven assists, the second most on the team.

What might be most impressive about the team has been the goalkeeping and defense. The Red Hawks have allowed just about 1 goal per game. Freshman Phoebe Bledsoe had a remarkable season as well, going 6-1-2 with an unreal 0.68 goals against average and .860 save percentage. Molly Barrow was impressive as well, posting a record of 4-3-2, allowing just about 2 goals and saving .714 of shots on goal, when Bledsoe was sidelined with a quad injury.

The Lady Red Hawks have defeated Rutgers University-Newark at home 3-0, then at Rowan University in overtime penalty kicks to advance to the 2017 NJAC Women’s Soccer Championship at TCNJ.

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