The Montclair State University Red Hawks overcame adversity and defeated Stockton University Ospreys in a thriller, 3-2. With the win, 10th-ranked Montclair State field hockey improved to 12-1, while Stockton fell to 7-5. With fast-paced action and physical play, there was no shortage of entertainment.
Stockton gave Montclair State a run for their money, pushing the pace offensively early in the game. At the 5:44 mark of the first half, Stockton’s forward Sarah Fisher nailed a shot from close distance assisted off a penalty corner by Victoria Caiazzo to give them a 1-0 advantage.
Montclair State would eventually find some rhythm offensively late in the first half. Senior midfielder/forward Amber Haslett, who had a monster game with three goals, scored her first goal of the game off an amazing penalty corner assist by Kelly Watson. However, Stockton was able to create several opportunities in the first half and did a good job of limiting the Red Hawks’ dangerous offensive.
Going into the half tied 1-1, Stockton continued to play well early in the second half, creating several scoring opportunities through their passing and spacing. This paid off with 24 minutes remaining in the contest. Stockton’s Casey Cordonna scored a big goal to put the Ospreys up 2-1. Stockton players and fans erupted with excitement, and it was apparent that an upset could be on the horizon. However, the Red Hawks would not go down quietly.
After failing to score any goals off of their first five penalty shots in the second half, the Red Hawks finally got the crucial goal they needed. With less than 10 minutes remaining in the second half, a beautiful pass from Kyra Mobley led to a bank shot goal from Haslett that tied the game at 2-2. Montclair State took advantage of a great penalty corner from Watson which led to Mobley’s great assist to Haslett.
Head coach Eileen O’Reilly believed that working on these penalty corners in practice paid off during the game.
“In our timeout early in the second half, we knew that we needed to draw more penalty corners and we have to execute them,” O’Reilly said. “I was happy we were getting opportunity after opportunity at penalty corners, as we practice penalty corners multiple times a week.”
Penalty corners came in to play again late in the half. In the 66th minute of the game, Watson set up a stellar penalty corner that led Haslett to strike a long goal that hit the top right corner of the net, giving Montclair State the lead, 3-2. The Red Hawks’ great defense the rest of the way secured their win.
The Red Hawks were down twice in the game but found a way to win, showcasing the team’s resilience. Haslett believed that the team’s new slogan has led to the team staying positive through adversity.
“One of our big things this year is ‘riding the wave,’” Haslett said. “There will be ups and downs in a game, but we will push through by having a positive mentality.”
With the conference tournament approaching soon, the Red Hawks will need to be at their very best to win the conference and avenge a loss. Coach O’Reilly believes that they cannot overlook the regular season games at hand.
“Every game and opponent matters, and today we took Stockton lightly,” O’Reilly said. “Our season strategy is focusing on beating the teams that we know we can beat, and it’s something we preach day in and day out.”
Montclair State will end their regular season with four of the their last five games away from home.