Montclair State University women’s soccer beat Stockton University 2-0 in the semifinals of the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) tournament to move on to the finals. The game was exciting all the way through as it was a great game for the Red Hawks as they had a big win against a division rival.
Head coach for the Red Hawks, Patrick Naughter, talked about how his assistant coach constructed the game plan.
“Mike Gagliano, our assistant coach, was making sure that our game plan was not to defend them, but go play them. Put pressure on them in order to keep possession,” Naughter said. “He was absolutely right and that is the best version of ourselves. The kids executed and they did a great job, not just the goal scorers, but our passing as well.”
Naughter was happy with the constant pressure the Red Hawks put on Stockton the entire game, continuing what they have done all year. Naughter was recently announced as the NJAC coach of the year, after a 7-1-1 conference record. He used the same tactics all year and implemented them into the game as they controlled the ball for most of the first half.
In the first eight minutes of the game, freshman forward Tori Rolls and senior forward Emily Beenders were able to get off shots, keeping the pressure on the Osprey’s defense immediately. Coming into the game, Rolls was awarded NJAC freshman of the year, so her impact in this game was going to be no surprise.
At 31 minutes of play, freshman midfielder Chisom Onyewuenyi entered and had an amazing game. Naughter raved about her game play.
“I thought Chisom Onyewyenyi was the best player on the field by 10 miles,” Naughter said. “She was unbelievable.”
The whole bench stepped up as Montclair State continued to prove they have great depth this year. As time was winding down in the first half, freshman defender Gabby D’Emillio scored her fourth goal of the season with a little more than two minutes remaining.
“When you can get one right at the end of half, it really changes momentum,” Naughter said. “They have to now think about it for 15 minutes. It really just takes all the heat off of us and all the pressure off of us.”
At minute 46, game play was paused as a deer ran all around the field filling the fan section with laughter and having the players running for their lives trying to get out of the way. The coaches and staff members were able to corner the deer after a few minutes, getting it off the field and continuing game play minutes after.
As both teams entered the second half, the momentum was clearly in favor of the Red Hawks. Rolls took the ball through the Stockton defense for a breakaway that went just wide.
With the shot, the Red Hawks did not look back. Five minutes later, Beenders had a breakaway of her own splitting defenders, striking the ball into the back of the net for her eighth goal of the year.
The defense played flawlessly when it counted the most, only allowing one shot on goal in the final 35 minutes of the game. With the help from sophomore goalkeeper Lindsay Freewalt, the Red Hawks did not let a single ball through.
The Red Hawks played strong, shutting out the three seeded Ospreys while also taking 18 shots in the game. Naughter was impressed, although he expected it every step of the way and looks forward to their matchup in the finals against The College of New Jersey.
“There are very few teams that are still playing this week and we get to be one of them and we earned that right,” Naughter said. “I’m pumped for these kids because they deserve it, I’m pumped for the program because this is a big one. The way we played as well as we did, I’m ecstatic and I can’t wait.”