On Sept. 8, Montclair State University dropped a close game to Vassar College in what was the program’s first loss since the 2019 New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) championship game.
Using this as a wake-up call, the Montclair State women’s soccer team played with a vengeance this past weekend. The Red Hawks came out firing, netting three goals in a 3-1 win over Ursinus College.
Head coach Patrick Naughter recognized his team’s drive and that they would bounce back. The long season is expected to have losses here and there, but he knows that the teams who find success are those who move on from those losses.
“It’s an older group,” Naughter said.”They are mature and they do a good job of flushing it and moving on to the next one. They’ve lost very few games in their career. They don’t like losing. There was a little bit of a look in their eyes the last couple days of training. I knew we were going to make a good effort.”
That they did, as it didn’t take long for the Red Hawks to get going. Just eight minutes into the game, Montclair State was rattling off multiple shots. Then, finally, in the 17th minute forward, graduate student Zoë Steck broke it open.
This was Steck’s second goal in two games. She wasn’t happy losing earlier in the week, however, she did her job in jumpstarting this game.
“We wanted to get the result out there today,” Steck said. “That was our main goal, just get a result by any means necessary. Pretty goals, ugly goals, we had a little bit of both today, and at the end of the day that was our goal, just get the ‘W.'”
A former teammate of Steck back at Nutley High School also contributed to the win in a big way. Sophomore midfielder Samantha Gabriele scored her first goal of the season in the 71st minute of the game.
At this point in the game, Montclair State had two goals and held the Bears to zero shots on goal. It was another clean, defensive showing, not letting Ursinus even gain an attempt.
In goal for the Red Hawks was senior Lindsay Freewalt. Freewalt hadn’t played any minutes since the 2019 championship game. In this game, she didn’t miss a beat. The senior let nothing pass other than a late goal with just 30 seconds left.
Naughter and the coaching staff were aware of Freewalt and the history she has with Ursinus. She posted a shutout in a 1-0 victory back in 2019, so they expected her to pick up right where she left off.
“I think Linds [Freewalt] did well,” Naughter said. “We decided to give her the game here. She’s been sharp in training [and] a couple years ago she played at Ursinus, and that was one of the best games we had a goalkeeper play in the last few years, so it was awesome to see her again today.”
In the Red Hawks 1-0 overtime victory against Ursinus College in 2019, the lone goal came from the now senior midfielder, Catherine Carnevale. This was another impressive game for Carnevale, who came out strong and controlled the midfield for the Red Hawks.
Montclair State’s final goal of the game was courtesy of senior midfielder Chisom Onyewuenyi. It was her first goal of the season.
This bounce-back win puts the Red Hawks at 3-1. Their next matchup comes against DeSales University on Sept. 15 at their home field.
The following game will be a big-time showdown between Montclair State and Rutgers-Camden on Sept. 18 at MSU Soccer Park. This game will be a rematch of the 2020 NJAC Championship where the Red Hawks defeated the Raptors, 1-0.