The Montclair State University men’s soccer team looked to win their fourth game in a row against Amherst College this Sunday. After scoring four goals in each of their last three games, the Red Hawks were riding high coming into their matchup with the Mammoths.
Just seven seconds after the first whistle was blown, a yellow card was issued to Amherst senior forward Ada Okorogheye, much to the delight of a rowdy Amherst bench.
The Mammoths came out strong and energetic, pressing on the ball at every touch by a Red Hawk. Amherst’s press, along with a very physical style of play, made the Red Hawks uncomfortable and led to numerous turnovers in the defensive part of the field.
Amherst’s offense was clicking early as they were finding success playing long balls in the air. The Mammoths’ noticeable height advantage allowed them to win headers and play the second ball. While the Mammoths were flying around the field, Montclair State was simply trying to weather the storm. Junior Defender Ramo Lukovic believes the quick start for Amherst was the difference.
“Yeah [they caught us off guard] a little bit,” Lukovic said. “Especially those long balls. We got caught up deep on the first goal, just bad communication with the defenders.”
The first goal came from freshman Amherst forward Mohammed Nuhu. After Nuhu’s original shot was saved, the rebound fell kindly and Nuhu blasted it into the net.
Only three minutes later, Nuhu and the Mammoths found the back of the net again. After a cross was put into the box, the ball popped up, and Nuhu plucked it out of the air to score a gorgeous goal on the volley.
Initially, the linesman raised his flag to signal offside, but after a conference among the referees, the goal was allowed and Amherst led 2-0 in the seventeenth minute.
Amherst dominated the first half, having their way in the air and outmuscled the Red Hawks. Nuhu’s first-half brace was the only goal and put Montclair State in a 2-goal deficit to start the second half.
The Second half was much better for Montclair State as they switched from playing balls in the air to keeping the ball on the ground, mitigating Amherst’s height advantage.
“We played on the ground,” Lukovic said. “Our game plan at first was to get in behind their players but they were just too tall. We started playing on the ground, playing quick, and if we played like that the first half we would have more success.”
Montclair State pushed for a goal and found their opportunity in the seventy-fourth minute as Amer Lukovic was brought down in the box leading to a penalty. The penalty was subsequently scored by Lukovic who tucked it calmly into the bottom left corner as the keeper dove the wrong way, putting the score at 2-1 in favor of Amherst.
Montclair State’s effort was too little too late as they failed to find the equalizer and eventually lost. The Red Hawks record now stands at 12-2-1.
This Wednesday, Montclair State will look to get back on track against William Paterson in Red Bull Arena.
“We’re going 1,000 miles per hour,” Lukovic said. “We’re gonna jump, especially playing in Red Bull Arena. It’s going to be great.”