The Red Hawks put on a gutsy performance Saturday afternoon as they pulled out their first win of the NJAC tournament. It was a thrilling matchup filled with a ton of exciting moments as the final score of the game was 3-2.
The Red Hawks looked very sharp and got a lot of shots on the net to open up the matchup. Ball movement was key in creating these opportunities for the Red Hawks as they looked to apply pressure on Stockton’s defense.
Stockton had very few chances to score but when they got the ball down field they made Montclair State University pay for it. Freshman Katie Ambos sank the first goal of the game for Stockton giving them a 1-0 lead.
Montclair State was outplaying Stockon and yet, they were losing by the end of the first half. It was an extremely frustrating forty five minutes for the women’s soccer team, and if they were going to save their season the Red Hawks needed to bring more energy when they came back out onto the field.
The second half began and Montclair State came out fired up, eager to touch the ball once more. We talk about game-changing players, well senior Aileen Cahill came up huge for the team scoring the game-tying goal with a little over twenty minutes to play.
The score was 1-1 but this moment awakened Montclair State like never before. Head Coach Patrick Naughter was extremely impressed.
“When you look at Aileen’s resume and how she has played a million different positions, the energy and the work rate that she plays with, for me nobody has done more here than Aileen Cahill,” Naughter said. “For me she was the best player on the field, for both teams. She was the hardest working player on the field for both teams. That kid is special, just special.”
A few minutes later, the Red Hawks scored again with the assist coming from none other than Cahill. She crossed it in to fifth year Megan O’Callahan who headed the ball into the back of the net for the 2-1 lead.
“Aileen didn’t have a great angle to shoot so I knew it was going to be a cross coming in,” O’Callahan said. “I just made a hard run and out of the corner of my eye, I could see that I had two steps on the girl. I then kept my eye on the ball and I honestly didn’t even know it went in. I felt it in my head but I assumed it went over. It was a great feeling when I saw it bounce off the post into the net.”
However, the game was not finished yet as Stockton would answer back in the 89th minute, tying the game at two. The goal was scored by Senior Rylee Getter and this meant that we were heading to overtime.
Back and forth the game went as the intensity was building up for both teams. Then in the first half of overtime, Junior Nicole Ricci scored off the deflection giving Montclair State the 3-2 lead when they needed it the most. This was all the momentum that the women’s team needed as they never looked back, capturing a well deserved win in game one of the NJAC tournament.
“Ricci is a kid who has had uneven playing time up and down,” Naughter said. “She had never once had a bad attitude and has always trained really hard. She is an awesome kid [who] has awesome energy. The goal comes from her sprinting after a lost cost but that is what she does all the time. She cashed it in and it was probably the biggest goal of the season.”
The Red Hawks never gave up and wanted to get the win today no matter what.
“We all love each other,” Junior Emmi DeNovellis said. “We want to play for each other and did not want this to be our last postseason game. We went out and gave it our all. Our first priority is the NJAC tournament but we want a ticket to the NCAA tournament.”
The team’s next test comes on Tuesday, Oct. 31, at TCNJ as they look to make it past the semi-finals. It should be a fun one to watch as Montclair State continues to push toward its ultimate goal which is the NCAA tournament.