The Montclair State University men’s soccer team had a great season which ended in a heartbreaking loss in the championship. This season, with new players and a fresh start, a different result is in perspective.
It was not a normal season for any of the sports teams at Montclair State last spring. This holds especially true for the men’s soccer team. After squeaking out a win against Stockton University in the season opener and dominating New Jersey City University with five goals, the momentum swing took a grinding halt.
Three straight games for the Red Hawks were canceled. In April, the games started back up again and Montclair State could not be stopped, winning the final two in preparation for the playoffs.
Junior forward Janbi Kaghado, the team’s leading goal scorer last season, recognized the challenges of these games being taken away and how short the season was overall.
“It was difficult last season with all the cancellations of games, trainings, etc.,” Kaghado said. “But with all these problems, the team banded together and stayed strong to keep positive and continue to work for each other.”
This kind of mindset, along with teamwork, helped them keep their momentum going into the playoffs. They beat Rutgers Camden 3-1 in the conference semifinals to advance to the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) title game.
However, the magic ran out right at the very end in a loss against Ramapo College. The team had several shots on goal, including Kaghado, but Ramapo’s goalkeeper, Matthew Wilcox, fended all of them away. A penalty goal early in the game was the deciding factor in a 1-0 victory against the Red Hawks.
Last season’s loss is not bringing down this team any longer, as senior goalkeeper Shane Keenan points out.
“[The loss against Ramapo] is definitely motivation,” Keenan said. “Seeing the team celebrating the title after the game was one of the hardest things for me to watch. This year, we are back for revenge.”
The Montclair State men’s soccer team has not been quiet during the summer either. Senior midfielder Ryan Catalano said the team was hard at work prepping for the fall and building more chemistry as a squad.
“We had a lot of returners, which is a great base to start off of, but I feel like this has been the most connected the team has been so far,” Catalano said. “It’s a good unit and we are ready to go.”
The Red Hawks only played four regular-season games last season and this season, the team is playing 19 regular-season games. This includes a back-to-back in late September with games against New Jersey City University, Alvernia University and another chance against Ramapo on Oct. 13.
Montclair State earned its first victory of the season on Sept. 1 against Centenary University in a 6-1 blowout victory as six different Red Hawks scored at least one goal.