Patrick Naughter became the winningest head coach in Montclair State University women’s soccer history on Oct. 30, 2019, as he won his 137th career game in a 2-1 victory over the Kean University Cougars at MSU Soccer Park.
It was one of the many accomplishments that Naughter has achieved in his illustrious coaching career here at Montclair State. Since taking over as head coach of the Montclair State women’s soccer team in 2010, Naughter has led this program to five consecutive NCAA tournaments from 2012-2016, as well as two New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) titles in 2012 and 2014.
But, if you ask him, he believes this type of success should be customary by now.
“I believe that we should always have one of the best rosters in the conference each season,” Naughter said. “The kids who were a part of those [championship teams] deserve so much credit because we demanded a lot out of them.”
Before all the accolades and awards as a coach, Coach Naughter was succeeding as a standout player for the Montclair State men’s soccer team from 1996-1999. As a defender, he led the Red Hawks to deep playoffs runs including a conference title in 1997. He would soon go on to be an assistant coach for a few seasons after graduation.
Naughter would eventually pick up coaching jobs at the youth and high school level. From 1998-2010 he coached multiple club girls soccer teams such as NJ Crush, Parsippany Soccer Club and others. More notably, he was the head coach of the Wyckoff Torepdos U-18 club, a Virginia club soccer team that were finalists in the Virginia Tournament three times between 1998-2003.
Naughter detailed how much he enjoyed coaching club soccer in his early coaching career.
“I like preparing kids for the opportunity to play in college one day,” Naughter said. “I still coach to this day at a club team, and it keeps me active during the offseason when I’m not at [Montclair State].”
Despite being well-known in the New Jersey club soccer world, it was not until the late 2000s where Naughter really made his mark at the varsity high school soccer level. From 2006-2009, he led Northern Highlands High School to a 40-26-6 record, which included a conference championship and an appearance in the North One Group Three New Jersey state championship in 2009.
He believes that the experiences that he had at Northern Highlands, good and bad, were instrumental in helping him become a better coach.
“Even though I was in some big games at [Northern Highlands], I made a ton of mistakes,” he said. “[However], all of my experiences prior to Montclair State have led me to be successful.”
Throughout the last nine years that Coach Naughter has been coaching at Montclair State, he has relied on a very different style of coaching to help his players succeed.
“No one size fits all, and everyone has their individual fears and limitations so it’s all about working with each kid individually,” Naughter said. “It’s all about convincing what they can do and putting them in positions where they can be successful.”
Senior forward Emily Beenders knows first hand about Naughter’s ability to put players in the best positions to succeed but also pushing them to do more.
“When I first came into this program as a freshman, all I really knew how to do was score goals since I had only played center midfield,” Beenders said. “But he’s really helped me to become a better defender as a forward.”
Coach Naughter has also been able to consistently bring in top-notch talent to the program each year. All-conference players such as Beenders, senior midfielder Maddy McLelland and sophomore midfielder Emily Degeyter are just a few of the many impact-players that he has brought to this program over the last few seasons.
“I have a lot of trust in his recruiting process and who he thinks will fit into our program,” Laura Noseworthy, sophomore defender, said. “He not only looks at skill, but personality as well, and he’s really brought in a great freshman class this year.”
The freshman class for the Red Hawks this year have certainly contributed their fair share, particularly freshman forward Tori Rolls, who was named the 2019 NJAC Rookie of the Year after finishing the season with 21 points, including eight goals, and five assists.
Rolls, Degeyter and junior defender Catherine Carnevale will all return next season, leaving for a lot of optimism that the Red Hawks can continue to be successful as a program.
“The young kids this season are playing great this season, and the challenge moving forward will be keeping everyone hungry and motivated,” Naughter said. “We’ll be as talented in the next few years as we’ve ever been.”
As for this season, the Red Hawks currently sit as the second seed in the NJAC Tournament after finishing the season with a 12-5-2 record, their best record in three years. Naughter also earned yet another accolade this season as he was named the 2019 NJAC Coach of the Year by his coaching peers.
The Red Hawks highly successful season has been a huge morale boost to a program that had been on the decline for the last few seasons. The Red Hawks have not reached the NCAA Tournament for the last three seasons and have not won the NJAC since 2014. However, Naughter has the confidence that this team can make it back to the big dance.
“These last few seasons we’ve been right on the bubble despite us always being ranked in our region,” Naughter said. “It’s difficult to get back to the levels that we were at before as a program, but this team is absolutely capable of reaching the [NCAA tournament].”
The Red Hawks are inching closer to their goal for the NCAA Tournament as they recently won their NJAC semifinal round game against Stockon University, 2-1. They will face The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) on November 7th for the New Jersey Athletic Conference championship and a spot in the NCAA Division III tournament.
As for Coach Naughter’s legacy here at Montclair State, it is clear that he is adored and revered by players and fans alike for what he has done for this program for the last nine years. However, Naughter is focused more on making sure the players enjoy their time playing soccer at Montclair State, rather than worrying about his legacy or the next move in his career.
“For me, it’s all about giving the players the best experience possible,” Naughter said. “For this senior class, I want to get everything I can out of that for them because they don’t have another year like I do.”