It was not until the 14th game of last season that the Montclair State University women’s soccer team scored at least five goals in a game. That was not the case this year.
In just their third game of the season, the Red Hawks defeated Kean University in a 5-0 shutout at Montclair State Soccer Park on March 20.
Montclair State played well on both sides of the ball throughout the game. The collectiveness of head coach Patrick Naughter’s team has grown since the beginning of the season. The Red Hawks put on a show like no other, scoring not just the five goals, but with five separate players.
“The players are working really hard to continue to improve and raise the level of the group,” Naughter said. “I’m not surprised by the variety of goal scorers and I know we have very good players who have yet to get theirs, but it’s coming.”
Montclair State used more than four times the amount of bench players Kean did. However, this is not anything new for the Red Hawks as they consistently utilize their team’s depth to their advantage. In every single game this year, the Red Hawks have at least doubled their opponent in bench players used.
Naughter does not put too much emphasis into who is or is not starting and it shows on the field. Every player on the team knows their role and they all bought into the system. Players like senior midfielder Imani Thompson, junior midfielder Caitlin Mead and freshman midfielder Olivia Kedziora played a lot of minutes in this game.
“We knew going into this game that we were the deeper team, and as a result we were planning on playing 20 players in the first half,” Naughter said. “The early goal was good but goals two and three in the first half made us feel significantly more relaxed. All the credit goes to the kids who subbed in and raised our level, namely Imani Thompson, Cait Mead and Olivia Kedziora.”
These players who came into the game not only helped win the game, but the fresh legs sealed the coffin on a dominant performance. They came out like they were not already up 5-0 and continued to put pressure on a good Kean defense.
The score may have been even more than five if it was not for Kean’s senior goalkeeper Marissa Cook, who had a flurry of saves during all points of the game. She tallied 13 saves, a season-high for her.
Still, they were no match for the best offense in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC). They lead the conference in goals scored, shots and scoring average.
The goal scorers were senior midfielder and captain Catherine Carnevale, sophomore forward Sofia Ambrosio, sophomore forward Samantha Senatore, senior forward Maddie Musico and freshman forward Lauren Ernst.
The offense was joined by a defense that has allowed just eight shots on goal all season, making them a difficult team to score on. Senior goalie Phoebe Bledsoe is having a great season thus far, sitting with two shutouts on the season.
“Obviously the players know they played well, and to hit the net five times against a team as good as Kean is an awesome accomplishment,” Naughter said. “The quality of our defending, possession, attack and finishing was all very high.”
The Red Hawks hot streak on offense continued against William Paterson, defeating the Pioneers 4-1 on March 25, putting them at 3-0-1 on the season.
Their next game against Ramapo College was canceled, so they will have one more regular season game against Rutgers-Camden on March 31 before the NJAC Tournament.