The Montclair State University men’s soccer team suffered its first loss of the season at the hands of NCAA Division III champions Messiah College by a final score of 5-1.
It was a matchup anticipated by many as both teams came in with undefeated records: Montclair State at 3-0-1 and Messiah at 2-0-1. The Red Hawks’ men’s soccer head coach Todd Tumelty, talked about what it was like going into the game against the reigning NCAA Division III national champions.
“I knew that this was going to be a difficult one,” Tumelty said. “This is a really good team, and we had to make zero mistakes in order to win.”
The first half began with both teams trading blows early on. Montclair State forward Jake Seaman took the lead in the game with a pair of shots both denied by Messiah’s goalkeeper Connor Bell. However, Messiah started to go on the attack.
Forward Nick West kicked a pair of shots of his own, both being saved by Montclair State goalkeeper Mike Saalfrank, who had come into the game having only allowed one goal on season. Montclair State forward Jose Huerta nearly gave his team the first goal of the game with a shot right in front of the goal but was denied by Bell.
Offensively, it was all Messiah College from there. Montclair State would struggle to create shots throughout the rest of the half. Messiah College took the lead when Samuel Riz Plaza scored his first goal of the season with a laser shot to the right of Saalfrank, sending the game into halftime, 1-0. Throughout the entirety of the first half, Montclair State only managed to produce three shots on goal. Furthermore, Messiah College lead the game in shots (19-16), shots on goal (13-8) and corner kicks (11-5).
Tumetly explained how tough it is to create offense against Messiah College.
“It’s difficult,” Tumetly said. “They hold the ball. They keep possession for most of the games, and it’s difficult to get opportunities. When you get your opportunities – we had a couple of them in the first half – you gotta bury them.”
The second half is when Montclair State started to create more shots, as the Red Hawks actually outshot Messiah 11-9 in the half. However, you probably wouldn’t have known that if you looked at the scoreboard. Messiah scored a grand total of four goals in the half, showing the crowd at MSU Soccer Park at Pittser Field why they are the reigning national champions by putting the game out of reach for the Red Hawks. Senior midfielder Nick West scored two goals for five total on his young season. The lone Montclair State goal in the game was scored by Huerta. It was his fifth of the season.
Despite the crushing loss and knowing his team was no longer unbeaten, Tumetly did not find the outcome hard to swallow.
“You’re gonna lose,” Tumetly said. “You got to just figure out and hopefully find good things about the season, good things about things that we did and try to move on from there.”
The men’s soccer team would stay home to face The City College of New York (CCNY) on Monday night where they quickly bounced back with another offensive display, winning 7-0.
Montclair State scored four goals in the first half from four different scorers. Junior forward Nixon Soglo started the offensive onslaught in the 21st minute, which was quickly followed up with a goal from sophomore forward Chaz Burnett 72 seconds later. Three minutes later, freshman forward Sebastian Cortes scored his third of the season, then just over a minute later freshman midfielder Anthony Pelaez scored his first goal as a Red Hawk.
In the second half, another freshman would net his first goal of his young career. Freshman defender Emilio Pompetti scored in the 53rd minute on a pass from Burnett. Cortes and Pelaez would top off the scoring in the 64th and 65th minute marks respectively. Montclair State outshot CCNY 24-2 to win 7-0 and grabbed their fourth win of the season.
The Red Hawks hit the road to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to play Moravian College on Wednesday night before heading back home to start off a three-game home stand. The first game back home on Saturday, Sept. 15 will be against New Jersey Athletic Conference rival Rutgers University-Camden.