A great second-half start for the Stockton Ospreys’ women’s soccer team led to a huge 3-2 victory over the Montclair State University Red Hawks on a cold and windy Saturday night at MSU Soccer Park.
The loss will make it nearly impossible for the Red Hawks to claim the top spot in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) women’s soccer tournament, as they dropped to 9-3-3 (4-2-1 NJAC) on the season and are currently four spots below conference leader The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) (10-1, 6-0 NJAC).
Stockton’s early lead in the first half, as well as an early second-half push, proved to be enough to put away a skilled Montclair State team.
The pace of the game was extremely fast and physical throughout, with 20 fouls throughout the entire contest, many of these were by the Ospreys. This favored Stockton as they put pressure on the Red Hawks early on both sides of the field. In the eighth minute of the game, Ospreys’ forward Susan Porambo scored a goal that deflected off Red Hawks’ freshman goalkeeper Lindsay Freewalt, hitting the back of the net. This gave Stockton the early 1-0 lead over Montclair State.
Despite Montclair State having more of an advantage in terms of possession in the first half, Stockton stayed disciplined defensively and didn’t allow a goal in the first half. Montclair State created several opportunities for themselves in the first half, such as a free kick by junior forward Emily Beenders that just barley sailed wide left.
However, Stockton’s physical defense overwhelmed the Red Hawks’ offense throughout the first half, which was a surprise given how great Montclair State has been offensively this season.
Senior captain Ashley Koester was very straightforward about the offensive struggles in the first half.
“We didn’t hit our shots when we needed to,” Koester said. “Simple as that.”
The second half saw an offensive explosion from the Ospreys that struck everyone by surprise. A mistake on defense saw midfielder Emily Frazee score a goal off another deflection, this time by a Montclair State defender. Seconds later, another goal was scored by Frazee as it came off a perfect pass from defender Kiersten Reszkowski. This gave Stockton a 3-0 lead and left Montclair State fans in disbelief of the quick strike ability of Stockton.
However, Montclair State would not go down quietly. The Red Hawks would eventually find their groove offensively, taking advantage of a Stockton defensive that looked drained. Montclair State was aided by their young players stepping up.
Freshman midfielder Lindsay Bathmann finally ended the drought in the 75th minute, scoring a goal that was assisted by freshman forward Madison Martino. Another goal was made in the 86th minute by freshman midfielder Emily DeGeyter off a great cross by junior midfielder Maddy McLelland.
However, the Red Hawks were down 3-2, and with only a few minutes left to play, Stockton hung tough defensively in the final seconds to seal the victory.
Montclair State’s head coach Patrick Naughter was proud of the effort from his team but noted the several mistakes made throughout the game.
“We missed some goals on target today, and we missed a save that we should always make,” Naughter said. “We had great fight and spirit to make that comeback though.”
The Red Hawks will have to bounce back from this loss quick, as a tough challenge awaits them in the conference tournament in a couple weeks. However, Naughter was adamant the team will be ready to face this challenge.
“We just got to get better, but I have no doubt we can play with anyone on our day,” Naughter said.