It has been a roller coaster ride to start out the 2019 season for the Montclair State University Red Hawks men’s soccer team. Montclair State started out their season in dominant fashion after winning their first three games at home by a combined score of 22-0. However, they recently lost both games of the John Hopkins Invitational in Baltimore, Maryland.
During the invitational, the Red Hawks lost 2-1 to the University of Mary Washington and 2-0 to Johns Hopkins University. However, Montclair State got back on track this Monday, Sept. 9, when they defeated The City College of New York (CCNY) Beavers on their home field, MSU Soccer Park.
Throughout the entire first half, the Red Hawks dominated the Beavers in shots (14-1), and shots on goal (6-0). However, they would initially struggle capitalizing on scoring opportunities.
Senior midfielder Colin Mulligan fired a perfect pass in front of the net, but the Red Hawks could not get a shot off. Freshman forward Erick Chicas had the ball right in front of the net one-on-one with CCNY goalkeeper Kacper Lesniak. Despite a solid opportunity, Chicas was unable to get the shot off.
Eventually, Montclair State’s efforts in generating shots and dominating possession of the ball would pay off. Chicas got the Red Hawks on the board first, scoring a goal past Lesniak at just over 35 minutes into the match. Chicas’ second goal of the season sent Montclair State into halftime with a 1-0 lead.
Another challenge that the Red Hawks faced throughout the game was the absence of key players. Head coach Todd Tumelty decided to rest several players after the team’s third straight day with a game. This included senior forward Jose Huerta, who is tied for the team lead in goals (4) and points (9).
“I think we’re pretty deep,” Coach Tumelty said. “I think we’ve got some talented players and I think if we continue to work hard, listen, learn and buy into our system, then hopefully we start to turn things around here.”
Despite this, Montclair State’s depth and “next man up” mentality allowed them to power through, especially in the second half. The Red Hawks wasted no time extending their lead when the second half kicked off.
Senior forward Nixon Soglo buried one off a beautiful pass across the net from Chicas exactly eight minutes into the second half to give the Red Hawks a 2-0 lead.
The Red Hawks added another goal just over 10 minutes since their second when a mad scramble for the ball began in front of the net. Soglo broke through the scramble and buried it for his second goal of the game, extending Montclair State’s lead to 3-0. After scoring nine goals for 21 points in 2018, Soglo gave his thoughts on what it meant to get his first two goals of the season out of the way.
“It felt good to get those two goals just to get me rolling again,” Soglo said. “I was injured in the beginning of the season with a toe injury, so coming back off this weekend, I had two couple of good games. I feel good going into the rest of the season.”
With 9:02 left in the game, Montclair State added one more goal to seal the deal.
Junior forward Griffon Bacon scored his first goal of the season off an assist from freshman forward Mohamed Kossay, his first assist of the season, to extend the Red Hawks lead to 4-0, which ended up being the final score.
Chicas finished the game with one goal and one assist for three points. He has two goals, two assists and is tied for second on the team with six points on the season.
Following the game, Chicas talked about embracing the role of being one of the Red Hawks key depth players off the bench.
“A lot of people kind of stay negative, thinking ‘Oh, I don’t start,'” Chicas said. “I just try to help the team as much as possible. Coming off the bench, staying on the field and trying to help out the team as much as I can.”
After the win, the Red Hawks record now stands at 4-2 on their young season.
Coach Tumelty felt good about the team after they got a win after the two losses over the weekend.
“It’s always good,” Tumelty said. “When you lose twice and you want to make sure you get back in the winning category. The team starts to feel good about themself and the players start to feel good about themselves, and that helps kind of bring the momentum of winning.”