The Montclair State University Red Hawks men’s soccer team got back on the winning track this Saturday. They took down Rutgers University-Camden by a final score of 1-0 and improved their record on the season to 6-1-1. It was the Red Hawks’ first New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) matchup of the season, so they also earned their first conference win of the season and moved into third place in the NJAC standings. Head coach Todd Tumelty understands the importance of this big in-conference game.
“We need to get points because of its importance,” Tumelty said. “When you’re home, you gotta make sure you get all three points, and it wasn’t the prettiest game but we made it happen.”
Both teams were very quiet offensively in the early going, as there were not many shots at all throughout the beginning of the first half. In the first 20 minutes of the game, both teams only managed to generate one shot. Along with that, both goalkeepers had easy jobs early on as there were no shots on goal throughout the first 35 minutes.
The Red Hawks’ offense was bound to generate a spark eventually and with 10 minutes to go in the half, it happened. Montclair State’s junior forward and leading scorer Jose Huerta went off on a breakaway that was stopped. However, a yellow card on Rutgers-Camden defender Marcial Islas-Marroquin awarded Huerta with a penalty kick. The kick was saved with an impressive reaction from Rutgers-Camden goalkeeper James Brett. Thankfully for the Red Hawks, Huerta got to the net in time to control the rebound and bury it for Montclair State’s first and only goal of the game. The Red Hawks would keep up the intensity for the rest of the half, going into halftime with eight shots.
Montclair State opened up the second half exactly the way they ended the first half. They continued to shut down Rutgers-Camden and keep up the pressure on Rutgers’ defense. Throughout the first 74 minutes of the game, the Red Hawks outshot Rutgers 13-3. Throughout the first 76 minutes, Rutgers-Camden didn’t even have one shot on goal.
“[Mike Saalfrank]’s a really hard punter so I just waited at the half,” Huerta said. “If he got that, I knew he was going to punt it straight into the other half and when I saw he grabbed it, I just waited, just be onsides and when punted it, everything happened from there.”
However, throughout the final 19 minutes of the game is where Rutgers-Camden started to make it interesting as they started to put more pressure on the Red Hawks by creating some dangerous scoring opportunities. In particular, Skyler Daggs fired a perfect shot to the upper right corner of the net that seemed certain to go in. However, Red Hawks’ senior goalkeeper Saalfrank made a beautiful leaping save to keep his team’s lead in tact.
The emotions began to get high late in the game as well, as a small brawl between both teams sparked following a hard collision. Rutger-Camden’s Trenton Hall and Red Hawks’ junior forward Nixon Soglo were awarded yellow cards and Red Hawks’ senior midfielder Jake Seaman was awarded a red card.
Todd Tumelty prefers it when his players keep control of their emotions.
“We have a pretty mature group so I don’t understand why they got wiled up a little bit,” Tumelty said. “We definitely have to fix that in order to be successful through the season.”
Despite being down a man due to Seaman’s red card, the Red Hawks managed to hang on and win the game. They will remain home on Wednesday, Sept. 19 to play College of Mount St. Vincent and then play again on Saturday, Sept. 22 against NJAC rival Rowan University.