The eighth-ranked Montclair State University men’s soccer team took on New York University at Pittser Field in a regular-season matchup on Sept. 11.
Montclair State drew first blood. Senior defender Ryan Catalano whipped the ball into the middle toward freshman midfielder Amer Lukovic. Lukovic was able to keep his composure and ultimately slam it past the keeper to put the Red Hawks up 1-0.
The Red Hawks kept the pressure on for the majority of the first half. Montclair State was using their press as an advantage and when they lost possession, they tried to win it back right away. While it was somewhat working, the Red Hawks were never able to capitalize early on.
The Violets refused to go away. With about 10 minutes remaining in the first half, New York University midfielder Alex Rovirosa-Illa connected with his teammate, Nicholas Suter, on a free-kick to level the score. Suter got his head on the ball, putting it just past the keeper, and hit the post before it eventually rolled in.
The first half was even at one. Montclair State seemed to be in control for most of the half, but not being clinical enough in the final third hurt them. The Red Hawks had a total of 10 shots while the Violets registered six shots heading into halftime.
Head coach Todd Tumelty is confident in the team and knows that they will only get better.
“I just think we have to be better in the final third,” Tumelty said. “We had opportunities, we had chances. We’re gonna get there, it’s early [and] once we start clicking, I think it’s going to be an exciting team to watch.”
Both sides have tremendous depth and were able to rotate many players into the match. The second half began and it was much of the same story: a back-and-forth game between two good teams, however, Montclair State had the upper hand.
About a minute into the second half, the Red Hawks were already threatening. After a giant throw-in, the ball found freshman defender Alex Zielonka for a volley only for it to be hit directly to New York University goalkeeper Luca Mancuso.
With both teams searching for that match-winning goal, it began to get extremely physical. At one point, it looked like the referees were beginning to lose control of the game. Each side was awarded a yellow card and on top of that, there were a combined 22 fouls in the second half alone.
The Violets are a very physical team that likes to play straightforwardly. Tactically speaking, Tumelty notes, the Red Hawks were given a challenge that they are not used to.
“They were playing super direct,” Tumelty said. “They were playing balls in over the top and making it difficult for our backs. Our backs had to turn and run. They couldn’t play with the game in front of them.”
Both teams defended exceptionally well throughout the match. The Violets put the Red Hawks in some dangerous positions, however, the Montclair State backline led by senior Daniel Rodriguez and sophomore Julian Zamora made shots hard to come by.
The game would head into overtime after no goals were scored during the second half. Montclair State tallied eight total shots compared to only one from the Violets. In overtime, the first side to score wins the match.
After about seven minutes of play, New York University capitalized on what seemed to be the first real defensive error committed by Montclair State.
Forward Oliver Kleban made a nice run with the ball at his feet and linked up with Arkan Tahsildaroglu for the game-winning goal. New York University stormed the field in celebration leaving the Red Hawks devastated on their own pitch.
Junior forward Josiah Crawford spoke about staying motivated after a tough loss.
“I just think about it for a little bit but then I forget about it,” Crawford said. “I move on to practice and see what I can work on and develop for my next game.”
The Red Hawks are in for a long yet exciting season. They will look to bounce back against Moravian College on Sept. 15 and will return to MSU Soccer Park to face Rutgers-Camden on Sept. 18.