The Montclair State men’s soccer team defeated Whitworth College 3-1 behind a dominant performance from Captain Lucas Terci.
Terci scored twice and tallied one assist as Montclair State improved to 6-1-0 on the season. Terci tied the all-time assist record at Montclair State — a record he will break with so much time left in the season.
The Red Hawks took the field in their patented 4-2-3-1 formation with Mike Saalfrank in goal. Jake Seamen, despite his recent defensive performances in central midfield, filled in for the suspended Justin Clancy at left fullback, while Collin Mulligan played right back.
John Starner and Michael Czyrnek took their usual spots in central defense while Kevin Simek and Mike Taranto played center midfield. Lucas Terci, Rafael Terci and Damian Bziukiewicz manned the attacking midfield spots from left to right, and Mike Olla took the lone forward position.
Montclair State scored only six minutes into the first half. Lucas Terci played a scything pass from midfield, between three defenders and into the path of Bziukiewicz, whose low cross was cleared right to the onrushing Terci, who was fouled at the right corner of the 18 yard box. The elder Terci bent a low, hard free kick around the outside of the wall and into the bottom corner of the net to give the Red Hawks the lead.
Whitworth tried to play high up the pitch, pushing eight players into the opposing half and using their keeper as a sweeper almost halfway between his goal and the halfway line. This high pressing style was undone in the 15th minute when Bziukiewicz received a pass at midfield and charged down the right flank all the way to the 18 yard box. He then fired a low, hard cross to Lucas Terci who fired a smoldering finish into the roof of the net from about 12 yards out — a sublime goal from the senior captain.
Olla had a good chance smothered by Whitworth goalkeeper Timmy Costa with about 20 minutes left in the half. The Red Hawks got to halftime with a 2-0 lead and came out of the break determined to keep it, playing a very defensive style with almost all of their players sitting in the defensive half, and shutting down almost all of Whitworth’s chances.
Rob Chernez filled in well for Taranto, providing a key defensive presence after the latter was shaken up by a crunching tackle in midfield.
The Whitworth matchup was highly anticipated because of their style of play. However, the Red Hawks were able to withstand their opponent from across the country.
“It was tough. The way they play, they always have 2-3 guys running at you out wide,” said sophomore Jake Seaman. “I’m used to playing center-mid so playing left back was an adjustment, but we defended well as a unit during the second half.”
Montclair State got on the scoreboard again in the 67th minute when Terci drove from the left wing, drew three defenders and hit a no-look back heel pass to a wide open Aaron Rose, who curled in a fine finish from about 16 yards out.
Whitworth got on the board though — Jonah Snyder, who scored a tap-in after Austin Cassidy latched onto an errant backpass, drove at the defense and squared to Snyder, who made no mistake from close range.
After that, Whitworth had a few half-chances, but never bothered keeper Mike Saalfrank, whose physical presence commanded the box all day long. The Red Hawks improved to 6-1-0 behind Terci’s eighth and ninth goals of the season.
The men’s soccer team kicks off NJAC action against Ramapo College at Pittser Field this Saturday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m.