The Montclair State University women’s soccer team found themselves in an even matchup on Saturday. The Red Hawks played Rowan University and the game ended in a 0-0 draw.
In the past, Rowan has been a struggle for the Red Hawks. They have taken three straight from Montclair State including the NJAC Conference Championship game last season. Coming into the matchup, the Red Hawks knew they had to bring their best play to the pitch in order to defeat the Profs.
Fifth year goalkeeper Haley Martin, made key saves in the opening moments for Montclair State totaling five for the game and four in the first half. Pressure was getting to the defense as the Red Hawks struggled to put passes together and control any possession.
Montclair State played their second game of the week compared to Rowan who had a bit more rest, and Head Coach Patrick Naughter believed it played a role in the match, especially for his team.
“First half it looked like we played a tough one on Wednesday night and they had their feet up all week,” Naughter said. “That is the big difference. The amount of rest, the difference in time between your last game and your next game is massive. I think that showed we did enough to keep them off the board in the first half but in the first half we were the second best team.”
The women’s team came out fired up in the second half and were ready to make some noise. The Red Hawks were creating runs and finding good shots on the net. The defense was the real key to keeping this game as close as it was.
“We are very disciplined in the back,” Martin said. “We focused a lot in practice on not giving them a lot of opportunities on corners. If a corner did arise on what to do I think we were excellent on clearing out the first and second goal. That just helped us connect going forward.”
Nevertheless the score remained 0-0, but the Red Hawks will be ready to face Rowan again in the future. There is a lot of talent on this year’s team and the future is bright for them.
“Only good teams get big games like this,” Martin said. “We leaned into the energy and gave it all we had.”
Looking ahead to next week’s matchup against Rutgers-Newark, the Red Hawks have some things to focus on and tighten up. The attack has been great but controlling possession more against the higher level teams and being able to dictate the pace of play is something Montclair State could improve on. As the Red Hawks await there next test, Naughter acknowledges Rutgers-Newark as a great program.
“Rutgers-Newark has very good players and a coach who I’ve known since we were kids,” Naughter said. “They’re going to be ready for us and there are no easy outs in the NJAC. Going on the road to Newark on Wednesday night between Rowan and TCNJ, I just hope we get a win. I don’t care if it is 1-0 or 6-4, we just have to hit the back of the net more than they do.”