Montclair State versus Gordon College
After coming off of back-to-back losses for the first time this season, the Montclair State University men’s soccer team regathered themselves and were able to get a massive victory over Gordon College during the opening round of the NCAA Tournament at MSU Soccer Park.
Gordon College’s head coach Matt Horth gave credit to the Red Hawks for their strong performance.
“It was a great game of soccer. And in many ways, we’re proud our defense held strong,” Horth said. “All due credit to Montclair State. They’re a great team and they deserved to win. At the end of the day, we just didn’t do enough.”
After about 20 minutes of play, lightning in the area caused the match to be delayed for over an hour. Spectators at Montclair State were forced to shelter at the Red Hawk Deck as the thunderstorm rolled through.
Despite the extreme weather conditions, freshman forward and New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Rookie Of The Year Amer Lukovic came through once again for the Red Hawks at the most important time. His penalty kick in the 51st minute ended up being the match-winner, his 17th goal of the season.
Clear skies never came, but conditions improved and the game would eventually resume play. Both sides struggled to create any big opportunities during the first half, leading to a total of only five combined shots between both teams, with not a single one of them being on target.
Freshman Ian Chesney, who was also named First Team All-NJAC, led the way for the Red Hawks’ backline as they collected their 13th clean sheet of the season. The Scots didn’t create many chances, but even when they did, Chesney dismantled them. He was everywhere in what was truly a masterclass performance from the young star.
Neither team looked sharp on the attack for much of the game, however, the Red Hawks seemed to always be in control. As the game aged, Montclair State began to pick up their form.
Sophomore midfielder Gene Carlo Altamirano believes the NJAC Semifinal loss to Rowan University proved to be a learning experience for the Red Hawks.
“[The Scots] really [limited our opportunities on offense] from minute one, and that happened to us in the semifinal against Rowan,” Altamirano said. “They play really defensive, so it’s tough for us. [But], we used that game as an experience to learn how to break down teams.”
Head coach Todd Tumelty spoke to The Montclarion about what set up their victory.
“I think in the second half, we started to wear them down a little bit,” Tumelty said. “We had a lot of possession, which made them tired and gave us the edge.”
Montclair State versus Washington College
In a roughly 24-hour turnaround, Montclair State was ready to take the field against the Washington College Shoremen in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The mood of this game certainly felt intense from the first kickoff to the end of the game, which ended in a 2-0 victory for the Shoremen, both goals coming late into the second half. The first half was all keep-away and missed opportunities for the Red Hawks.
Montclair State had eight shots in the first half, and every one of those shots either sailed way over the net or was saved by Washington College goalkeeper Anthony Pinto.
In the first half, the Red Hawks were the better side, staying in the box for a majority of the game and pinning the pressure onto the Shoremen. Washington College only had one shot in the first half, with any other opportunity they wanted being stopped by the brick wall that is the Red Hawks defense.
Again, Chesney was excellent, along with Altamirano, as the two of them disrupted many attacks.
But then, with 18 minutes left in the game, Washington College forward Greg Adams smashed a shot that bent right into the top left corner and out of reach for goalie Shane Keenan. And for the rest of the game, the Shoremen took over.
With less than two minutes left, Eric Gwadz scored a solo goal to make it a two-goal lead, and it was clear the energy from the Red Hawks’ side was at an all-time low, as the players were frustrated they had so many opportunities and failed to make use of them.
While Washington College eventually celebrated its unprecedented victory, the majority of Montclair State was lying on the ground, defeated by the result of the game.
Tumelty spoke about the difficulties coming into the Sunday night matchup, and the reality of the situation at hand.
“When you play a back-to-back game, you have to focus on getting help and rehab for the players,” Tumelty said. “I thought we were able to get some subs in early in the Gordon College game, which gave us a little bit more energy heading into this game, [so] I thought the energy was good and we were ready to go. Unfortunately, we were on the wrong side of the match that I thought should have gone the other way.”
It was a tough way for Montclair State’s prestigious season to end against a team like the Shoremen, but Washington College’s head coach, Roy Dunshee, recognized how stellar the Red Hawks were, and explained how this season was different than any other, gaining their first two NCAA wins in program history.
“We’re deeper than we’ve ever been. We’ve had more talent than we ever had,” Dunshee said. “We have three fifth-year seniors who are really important to this team. [James Strine, Greg Adams and Del Jenkins] decided to keep chasing the dream and I’m glad they did. Having that senior leadership has been our advantage.”