The 2019 New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) men’s soccer regular season has entered its final stretch. The Montclair State University Red Hawks entered a big NJAC game against the Stockton University Ospreys on Saturday, sitting in fifth place in the NJAC standings.
It was a crucial game for the Red Hawks with two games left to play in the regular season. Considering how tight the standings were, they needed a win. They would end up doing so, as the Red Hawks took down the Ospreys by a final score of 2-0 in a dramatic game.
“We started 0-2 in the NJAC,” Red Hawks freshman forward Oscar Sanchez said. “The goal was after that, since we had that slow start and we know everybody wants to come and beat us, what we try to do is [focus on] one game at a time so we don’t look ahead. One game at a time, step by step, and that’s how we’re going from now on.”
Sanchez continued his excellent freshman season with one of the most impressive goals this season. He kicked a pass from senior defender Stefan Koroman off his left foot and past Stockton sophomore goalkeeper Dino Gromitsaris to get the Red Hawks on the board with a 1-0 lead. With the incredible kick, Sanchez now leads the Red Hawks with 11 goals and 23 points on the season.
“He’s stepped up big,” Red Hawks head coach Todd Tumelty said. “We knew when we recruited him, he was going to be a big time player for us. [He] got off to a slow start but has really impacted the game lately.”
Following the goal, Stockton would capture some momentum, outshooting Montclair State 4-2 throughout the rest of the first half. However, the Red Hawks would keep them off the board, sending them into halftime with their lead intact.
The Red Hawks would get on the board very early on in the second half, as sophomore midfielder Brogan Quigley scored his first goal of the season just 3:52 into the second half. Montclair State extended their lead to 2-0, which would end up being the final score.
Not long after the goal, tempers flared as both teams got involved in a scuffle. Both sides had to be separated and four red cards in total were handed out. Montclair State junior goalkeeper Michael Mejia and senior defender Devaughn Foster, as well as Stockton senior back Drew Ruble and sophomore forward Joel Burgos, all received red cards and were ejected from the game. This forced both teams to play two players short. Freshman Dean DePinto came in to replace Mejia in goal.
Coach Tumelty was disappointed with the lack of discipline from his players.
“I’m disappointed because I think my guys usually hold their cool,” coach Tumelty said. “You tell guys ‘It’s not about one individual event. It’s about the team as a whole.’ So two guys now have decided to let down the team, which is disappointing.”
The Red Hawks improved their overall record to 12-4-1 and NJAC record to 4-2-1 following the victory. That is good enough for third place in the NJAC standings. Montclair State will face The College of New Jersey on the road Saturday, Oct. 26 before returning home for the final game of the regular season on Wednesday, Oct. 30.