The Montclair State women’s soccer team continues to improve their record standing at 15-1, with a 7-1 record in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC). This wouldn’t be possible without the defense put forth by senior goalkeeper Haley Martin. Throughout their 16 games, the goal difference versus opponents stands at 42-8. The most goals allowed in a single game was a 3-2 victory over The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) on Oct. 15.
Martin is one of the major reasons the Montclair State University women’s soccer team defense is as strong as it is. She gives vocal support for when the team needs direction as well as making those crucial saves to keep the winning streak rolling. Martin, having two seasons in the starting lineup under her belt, has been able to step up as the veteran of the team.
Those in attendance at the women’s soccer games, experience the immense pressure and goal festivals that the Red Hawks have against opponents. But this wouldn’t all count without clean sheets and coverage from the defense. Martin has amounted to a total of nine clean sheets this season, already three more than last season.
“You always want a clean sheet, especially defensive players,” Martin said. “That work that we put in the preseason is letting us have that success we have right now.”
Sophomore forward Emmi Denovellis, being one of the strongest in the defensive line, is the last stop for the opposing team before it comes to Haley Martin. The nine clean sheets at goal for Martin were supported by the defensive line, but still a highlight for Martin through her communication and leadership skills.
“[Martin] is the first player to see everything on the field,” Denovellis said. “She’s our form of communication and that’s a great key to our success. Her leadership has been very key to the team this year.”
The difference between this season and last season is significantly. From the goal difference to the chemistry, and to who stepped up when it mattered most. Martin has been able to keep things afloat for this team and quiet in the backline. While things are looking strong in the front of the pitch for this women’s soccer team, it doesn’t necessarily mean Martin, as a goalkeeper, isn’t capable of helping.
It’s estimated that soccer players during a match of 90 minutes run an average of seven miles per game. The heart and ambition that this women’s soccer team plays with needs more than just training to provide that full strength and Martin is there to give that extra push.
“You gotta be vocal, especially on a team like this which is so defensively strong,” Martin said. “My role isn’t so much shot blocking as it is keeping my girls pushing for the 90 minutes. You’re not doing much physically so you [got to] be a support system.”
This role didn’t come easily to Martin. It’s as essential as any other and if anything a lot more competitive. Martin goes into a game focused on knowing what has to be done. On days where it’s busy at the net, that’s when Martin shines.
A highlight game for the goalkeeper was the match against TCNJ, which was not easy for the Red Hawks. This game was what was hopefully the most defensive-threatening game for Martin. TCNJ had a total of 24 shots this game, and Martin did what she does best and saved six shots that were on target. A game this hefty for a goalkeeper is something that she looks forward to.
“A lot of the work we do is behind closed doors and no one really sees it,” Martin said. “So when you have those games when it’s three shots on goal it’s a bit more nerve-racking [because] I should make those three saves.”
Martin can be seen as the strong head of the team and the strong point. Without knowing the goalkeeper, the opposing team can be intimidated and can get the wrong impression. But Martin is as uplifting as they come.
“I feel like you have to have a conversation one on one with [Martin] to really know her,” Denovellis said. “She’s so bubbly and happy. She’s never serious and it always reminds you to never take life too seriously. Everyone needs a Haley Martin.”