On Sept. 1, the Montclair State University men’s soccer team, ranked number eight in Division III, kicked off their season with a bang, defeating Centenary University in a 6-1 blowout.
Throughout the game, Tropical Storm Ida brought rain and wind that made for some tough playing conditions. Nevertheless, head coach Todd Tumelty and his squad never let up for the entirety of the 90-minute game.
Mixing and matching lineups throughout the game allowed Tumelty and the coaching staff to start forming ideal rotations for the season.
“Early on in the season you have to find a rotation that works,” Tumelty said post-game. “I think today we are starting to get our stride and see who can play where.”
The Red Hawks’ biggest strength is their depth, as many of their bench players can fill in as starters at any given moment. Getting Montclair State on the board early was freshman forward Reed Karsen with an assist from junior forward Josiah Crawford. Crawford would finish with two assists as well as a goal later in the game.
Following that first goal in the half, Centenary held strong especially in the goal as junior Andrew Tarkazikis finished the game with 10 saves.
When the second half came, the Red Hawks’ fresh legs pressed hard, never even giving the Cyclones a chance. Their defensive presence was so dominant it carried over into the offense breaking through. In the first 11 minutes of the second half, the Red Hawks rattled off three goals, including freshman Owen Murphy’s penalty kick goal just 49 seconds into the second half.
“Our philosophy is as soon as we lose the ball, we want to get it back,” Tumelty said. “They understand the press. We are fit and that allows you to do the press.”
Underclassmen contributed in this game as three freshmen athletes scored goals. This was huge in helping to propel the team to a big win especially with some key members not being able to play.
“Our freshmen have been excellent and I’m really pleased with the way they are playing,” Tumelty said. “They are going to get a lot of minutes.”
Senior goalkeeper Shane Keenan did a fantastic job blocking anything that came his way. However, he did have a late-game mistake leading to Centenary’s only goal from junior Mahir Yilmaz.
The Red Hawks went on to finish the game with a penalty kick from senior Brent Llewellyn. Montclair State extended their opening day game record to 21-0-4 for the first time since 1996. They also have now won all nine meetings versus the Cyclones.
The team will travel this weekend for a couple of games set to be played in Maryland as the Red Hawks will be competing in the Athey Cup tournament. This includes games against DeSales University and Washington College.