When Montclair State University men’s soccer and Rowan University meet on the pitch, the game promises to be a physical and gritty battle. Their most recent clash was no exception.
Montclair State came into the match on a two-game winning streak, previously beating Ramapo College and Stockton University, both New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) opponents. Their success in conference play has boosted the team and earned them the number-one seed in the conference so far.
They continued their hot streak against Rowan, posting three goals and a clean sheet. They improved to an undefeated four wins and zero losses in conference play, and an overall record of nine wins, one loss and three draws.
The Red Hawks got out to a blazing start scoring all three goals in the first 16 minutes of play. Head coach Todd Tumelty spoke on the importance of starting fast and scoring early.
“Obviously getting ahead is key, especially with no overtime anymore,” Tumelty said. “We’ve been struggling scoring goals but last game we were able to get five and now three this game so I think the goals are starting to come.”
The first goal came in just the third minute after junior midfielder Gene Carlo Altamirano drew a foul on the edge of the box. The following free kick was then banged in by sophomore midfielder Amer Lukovic, his fifth of the year. This is the second game in a row that the Red Hawks have scored off a set piece.
“Big emphasis on corners and sets,” Tumelty said. “I think it’s something that we tend to get a lot of, so if we can get one of them or two of them in the back of the net it will definitely help.”
Montclair State would continue to be absolutely dominant in the opening minutes, having big chance after chance, outshooting Rowan 6-1 in the first 16 minutes.
The second goal came in the 14th minute after a dazzling play by senior forward Josiah Crawford to round the keeper and blast his shot home. This puts Crawford at five goals on the season and his recent play has ignited the Montclair State offense. Sophomore midfielder Owen Murphy also picked up his first assist of the season on the goal.
The third and final goal was put in at the sixteenth minute. A Montclair State cross was deflected in by a Rowan defender and led to an own goal. The own goal visibly upset the Rowan team and seemed to be the final nail in the coffin, even though it was so early in the game.
The Red Hawks have been stellar defensively throughout the season, posting their eighth clean sheet against Rowan. The team has only allowed six goals all season and is using this defensive success to power their impressive play.
“I think defensively we’ve been really good,” Tumelty said. “We talk about minimizing goals. We always say you can get to the NCAA tournament if you have like 13 or 14 goals a year (scored against you) and right now we’re sitting at six, and six is a good number to have.”
The game also featured a total of seven yellow cards. Three being shown to Montclair State players and four being shown to Rowan players. The seventh card was dealt to the Rowan bench after an unpleasant exchange with the referee.
There are always fireworks when these two teams play, and Montclair State expected that coming into the matchup.
“Whenever we play Rowan it’s physical,” Tumelty said. “That’s the way they like to play so we have to match their physical and unfortunately yellow cards happen. So it’s part of the game.”
The next match for Montclair State is a crucial one, heading to second place Rutgers University-Newark on Wednesday, Oct. 12. This match will determine who sits atop the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) standings and will be a true test of Montclair State.