The Montclair State University men’s soccer team entered Saturday’s game against Ramapo College 7-1-3 with an undefeated record of 3-0-1 at home. They continued their fine form, notching a season-high five goals against the Roadrunners. The game was full of action, including seven goals, five yellow cards and a whole lot of rain.
One of the goal scorers of the game, freshman midfielder Anthony Viola, knew the game was going to be tough, but they adapted quickly.
“[It] turned into a bit of a messy game,” Viola said. “We knew they would come to play, we knew a couple of them, we knew they wanted to battle.”
The game was certainly a battle with 25 fouls throughout the game and the referee throwing up cards left and right. While the physicality certainly slowed the game and the Red Hawks down, the rain may have actually helped, according to associate head coach Maxx Wurzburger.
“We try to wet the field before games even if it doesn’t rain,” Wurzburger said. “We think our guys like playing on a slick surface so the guys were really excited.”
The slick surface certainly helped them to open the game up and create space all over the field, resulting in a season-high five goals for the team, and a strong performance overall.
Viola started the scoring early for the Red Hawks, putting away his second of the year in the 22nd minute. After receiving the ball with his back to the goal, senior forward Josiah Crawford played an elegant ball into the box, which was confidently blasted past the keeper by Viola.
“The ball just popped up to me and I took a good first touch,” Viola said. “As soon as I took it into space I knew if I whacked it on the frame it was going in, so I just whacked it.”
The goals wouldn’t stop there. Sophomore midfielder Alex Zielonka drew a penalty and a yellow card in the 45th minute. The penalty was converted easily by sophomore defender Ian Chesney, who fired a missile to put Montclair State up 2-0 going into halftime.
The second half saw both teams come out strong, but it would be Ramapo who would strike first. Junior defender Osbin Mendez, a former Red Hawk, played across into the box that was headed home by junior forward Damian Zurawski, putting the match at 2-1 in the 56th minute.
Ramapo played much better in the second half, almost finding an equalizer on multiple occasions. The Red Hawks kept their heads high, which is something they’ve been working on according to Wurzburger.
“There’s been times this season when we’ve given up a goal and our heads get down and we don’t really come together as a group so we’ve worked in training on having a positive mindset for a full 90 minutes,” Wurzburger said.
This composure led to the Red Hawks eventually scoring the winner in the 82nd minute, after sophomore midfielder Jacob Bartnik received the ball with his back to the goal, turned and fired a beautiful shot past the keeper to make it 3-1.
The game was blown open when Crawford added a goal to his assist with a powerful low-driven shot that gave Montclair State a comfortable lead of 4-1.
And then the game was put away in the 88th minute with Chesney scoring his second goal of the game off a well-taken freekick, putting the score at 5-2. Chesney described his thought process of getting his second goal in a game for the first time.
“The goalie was on the post during the freekick so I shot it quick and it went in,” Chesney said.
Undefeated in conference play after winning their first three games, they look to continue this streak against Rowan University next week in the team’s fourth New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) game.