For the Montclair State University women’s soccer team, the 2016 season has been full of obstacles. At the beginning of the season, the team lost its senior captain, Kimberly Mignone, to injury. Nevertheless, the team has continued its winning ways.
“Before the game, Kimmy Mignone talked to the team about playing for each other and doing things our way, and I think she delivers that message a little bit better than I do,” Head Coach Pat Naughter said. “[Mignone] has done everything for this program.”
A strong identity is the driving force behind this team. Even though Mignone has not played this year, she knows her role on this year’s team. The coaching staff and the players seem to have a strong bond.
“It’s very difficult any time you play a conference team,” Naughter said. “William Paterson University had 13 wins and they were very good.”
Captain Erin Sullivan has been a part of the program for four seasons. Sullivan credited her teammates for playing a great game.
“That was a gritty game,” Sullivan said. “These games come down to one goal. It came down to outworking the other team.”
Montclair State’s first round game against William Paterson University was scoreless until Emily Beenders broke the tie in the 74th minute. Beenders was honored by the New Jersey Athletic Conference as the “Women’s Soccer Offensive Player” and “Rookie of the Week.”
Beenders shed some light on what the team has done for her:
“As a freshman, you come in and do not know what to expect,” Beenders said. “There’s never a time when you feel like you’re letting anyone down, because the team keeps you positive.”
Naughter was clear about the strong bond this team has. The Red Hawks have weathered each and every challenge this year and the playoffs are no different. The team is focused heading into their next game.
“Our kids played really well and stuck with it,” Naughter said. “Our kids kept grinding. Last year, we were in a similar situation and we lost because we stopped grinding. I was very happy with their toughness and their mindset.”
Montclair State played Rowan University on Nov. 2. Rowan finished with a 15-1-1 record and their only loss came against The College of New Jersey in the last game of the season.
The Red Hawks lost on the road against Rowan on Oct. 8, and they know they will have to play their best to beat Rowan.
“Everyone is pumped,” Beenders said. “We feel ready to go to Rowan and play our game.” Rowan went on to win the Semifinal on penalty kicks after a scoreless draw.