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Men’s Soccer Starts NEC Play with a Victory and a Loss

The Men’s soccer team battled in league opponents Long Island University and Central Connecticut State University to a draw this weekend.

Within the first ten minutes of Friday’s game against LIU, it was clear that Monmouth would be controlling the play. By using the width of the field rather than the length, the team was able to manage the game in an efficient manner.

To start the scoring spree, freshman Matt Jeffery headed the ball into the right pocket of the goal off a corner kick by junior Ryan Clark to put MU on the scoreboard. Clark continued to be a dominant force as he weaved through three LIU defenders and made a perfect pass while falling on the ground to sophomore Joseph Schmid making the game 20 MU.

When Schmid was asked how he and Clark played so fluently together, he replied “In general if you are a good soccer player, when you play around good soccer players it becomes natural. I had a whole spring with them, practice four times a week, played a few games.”

As the clock wound down to four minutes left in the first half, the Hawks gained another corner. Clark took the kick and placed it perfectly to junior Kevin Davis who headed it towards George Quintano who put the ball in the back of the net. At the halftime, the scoreboard read 30 Monmouth.

Although MU maintained their game in the second half, Long Island University began to play a new one. LIU started to utilize the width of the field and applied more pressure on the Hawks.

Within the first eight minutes of the second half, freshman Andres Penfold passed the ball to senior Quintano who found a way to weave through four defenders and score the Hawk’s final goal. Clark ended the game with three assists and Quintano had two goals.

Knowing that the Hawks have not lost an opening conference game at home since he arrived, Coach McCourt did not base the game off this statistic. “I have a lot of confidence in my guys but I have a lot of respect for Long Island. I don’t look at the past at all but it’s nice we won a lot of those opening contests,” McCourt continues, “I think it was important to get off to a good start but I don’t base anything that has been done in this past on what is done now.”

Things were not as simple against CCSU. At halftime, the scoreboard read 10 MU but by the end of the game it was 21 CCSU. Providing the Hawks with their only goal was freshman Kalle Sotka on a corner kick from none other than Ryan Clark. With 12 shots and eight corners, the Hawks definitely had their share of opportunities but just could not find the net. Part of this was because of the physical competition between the two teams.

In the second half with 30 minutes on the clock, Sotka fell to the ground after being tripped by the CCSU’s goalie but no foul was called. A similar play was seen with five minutes left in the game when senior Max Hamilton was dragged to the ground by a CCSU player. Receiving a yellow card with 13 minutes left in the game was sophomore star Schmid.

As the final minute of play began, fans could hear the CCSU coaches yelling to their players “run the clock, run the clock.” With 36 seconds left to play, MU got a corner kick which ended up being knocked out of bounds by a CCSU player. With 27 seconds left in the game, the Hawks acted on their final chance to score by taking another corner kick. Unfortunately, neither of these plays resulted in a goal and MU hosted their second loss at home.

There is only one problem in the Hawks play: miscommunication. Long Island University almost scored due to miscommunication but the shot was weak. CSSU took their lead due to miscommunication between Jeffery and junior goalie Alex Blackburn. Once the team builds on this flaw, losses will no longer be accumulating in their record.

A driving force in why the Hawks are in first place for the Northeast Conference is because the versatility of their players. Coach McCourt comments by saying, “We recruit players because they are good players. A lot of the time they help out on the defensive side but a lot of the time they help out on the offensive side. We are interchangeable guys which is good when you get to this part of the season.”

When Penfold was asked how their coach prepares them for games like these, he replied “We go into every game with the same mindset; to come out with three points.” With this said, the boys will be traveling to league opponent Bryant University on Sunday at 1:00 pm with the goal of leaving with an 83 record.