Last season, the Montclair State University women’s soccer team finished with a 15-4-3 record en route to a fifth-straight appearance in the NCAA tournament, where they took down Buffalo state before losing to perennial powerhouse Messiah College in the 2nd round.
Since 2010, the team have always finished right at the top of the NJAC conference and have made it to the NCAA tournament for seven seasons running. Under head coach Patrick Naughter and his staff, the women’s soccer program has built quite the resumé,– a 105-26-12 record and two NJAC titles– one that the Red Hawks will look to build on in Coach Naughter’s 8th season at the helm.
In 2017, the lady Red Hawks are looking to replace former captains, Kimmy Mignone and Erin Sullivan, who allowed only 13 goals en route to 12 shutouts in 2015. This year’s team will also need to replace Jennie Hornstra, who finished 3rd on the team in scoring last year.
The Red Hawks need to replace the leadership they got from those four seniors—yet hope remains. Although Mignone and Sullivan graduated, on offense, this year’s team returns three all-conference players including junior midfielder Ashley Koester, sophomore forward Emily Beenders and senior forward Tyler Madison
Junior midfielders Ally Glickman and Ashley Koester will anchor the Red Hawk midfield. Glickman and Koester are both solid ball-winners who can facilitate traffic in the air and on the ground for Montclair. Ashley Koester has been named co-captain along with 2nd team all-NJAC center half, senior Heather Sootkoos.
Friday evening, the Red Hawks began their season with a 2-2 tie at home against Vassar College, and after that, tied Wellesley College 3-3. The good news is that Freshman Melanie Cunha has scored two goals in the team’s first two matches and is emerging as the team’s top striker.
Freshman Phoebe Bledsoe will take over as the starting goalkeeper and although the Red Hawks have ceded 5 goals in 2 matches, this year’s team has added some new blood to the coaching staff.
Captains a year ago, Kimmy Mignone and Erin Sullivan are on this year’s coaching staff. Both Mignone and Sullivan played with center halves, Sootkoos and senior Brooke Beatty—a relationship that should pay dividends for Montclair.
The schedule for this season will have 4 key matches; On September 27th, Montclair will play #4 Kean University. On October 7, the Red Hawks face defending NJAC champions Rowan; On October 11th, rival William Paterson faces the Red Hawks and on October 14th, the Red Hawks will host #1 ranked TCNJ, whom the Red Hawks lost 0-3 against at home last year.
This year’s team has the offense and the experience but the question remains, after graduating Mignone and Sullivan and Hornstra and with three returning all-conference players on offense, is this year’s women’s soccer team good enough to challenge #1 TCNJ and # 2 Rowan? Montclair are in 3rd place—a good place to start, but this year’s 2017 Red Hawks are seeking to surpass those expectations in 2017.