The Montclair State University women’s soccer team was tested yet again but they delivered when it mattered most with another special performance.
The 12th-ranked Red Hawks led for much of the match thanks to a header by senior midfielder Kimberly Campbell off of a corner kick in the 27th minute. However, Desales University found a late equalizer with about 15 minutes to play. From then on, the Red Hawks slammed on the gas.
Just moments after an equalizing solo goal by sophomore Emma Ribeiro for Desales, junior midfielder Aileen Cahill received the ball down the left side of the box and after a quick cut-in, the ball curled around the keeper and into the top right corner for a stunning goal and a 2-1 lead.
Even Cahill herself was a tad mesmerized by her goal and their performance.
“Obviously we were tied so I wanted to get the next goal I guess, I don’t know,” Cahill said. “And I saw [freshman forward] Kylie [Prendergast] going with it and just the open space down into the corner. She played a great ball to me and then [I] just took the defender on and saw the net, took a shot, see what happens and it turned out good.”
A lot is going right for this squad right now but Cahill seems to believe that it’s a lot more than the infield play that is contributing to their success.
“I think it’s just the heart that we all have,” Cahill said. “We all buy into it every game and just never stop fighting for each other and just put it all out there and don’t leave anything on the field and it comes out good.”
The fun continued for the Red Hawks, even after Cahill’s goal, as they remained aggressive while in search of an insurance goal.
Just four minutes later, now in the 83rd minute, junior midfielder Samantha Gabriele put a ball in the middle of the box and Cahill flicked it across to where freshman forward Prendergast took a touch and finished for her second goal of the season.
The Red Hawks would go on to win by a score of 3-1. It was the team’s third time finding a late winner this season and head coach Patrick Naughter believes his team can take a punch.
“I’m ecstatic for them,” Naughter said. “I just said to them that they take more punches than boxers.”
For Cahill, it was her third goal of the season, which is tied for most on the team with Campbell. This dynamic duo keeps on coming through when it matters most and, as of right now, no team seems to have any answers.
Naughter praised Cahill’s performance throughout the season.
“I think [Cahill] is as good as anybody in [Division III],” Naughter said. “She gets the ball, she takes it on and she hits a banger.”
Having a player like Cahill is essential when the competition gets tougher because at any moment she can change the game.
It’s not too often you see a team with this much success, chemistry and heart. There is no limit for these Red Hawks and Naughter is very confident because of the chemistry this team has developed.
“I think they just believe in each other,” Naughter said. “They know how much work they’ve put into this thing and they know that no matter the situation, no matter what’s going on, they’re capable.”
The Red Hawks will remain at home for their next contest as they take on Farmingdale State College on Thursday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. at MSU Soccer Park.