Monmouth University’s men’s soccer team tied their in-state rival Seton Hall University 1-1 in the Hawks home opener Friday night on the Great Lawn. Junior defender Emmanuel Senyah Agyemang netted the Hawks lone goal while Mateusz Brela scored the lone goal for SHU. The two teams competed in front of 4,042 fans marking a new school record.
“I thought it was an interesting and exciting game,” said Monmouth Head Coach Robert McCourt. “We still haven’t gotten our legs back from the (North) Carolina and Wake Forest trip so I thought we were a little flat at moments, but credit to Seton Hall they’re a good team and the made us look a little flat.”
The fast-paced first half saw several scoring chances for both sides, but neither team was able to score. Monmouth put pressure on Seton Hall early when senior forward Francois Navarro got a good look at the net with just under 38 minutes left in the half, but his shot went wide left and the score stayed even at 0-0.
MU’s best scoring opportunity came ten minutes later when the SHU goalkeeper saved a shot by Navarro, but senior forward Jacob Rubinstein recovered the rebound and put a shot on net. However, an SHU defender blocked the shot and cleared it out of immediate danger to keep the score knotted at zero.
Seton Hall had their best opportunity to score with under a minute left in the half when an MU foul resulted in a free kick just outside of the box. The Hawks defense clamped down and was able to deflect the ball wide of the net to keep the game scoreless at halftime.
Things began to slow down at the beginning of the second half as both teams saw fewer scoring opportunities. The game remained 0-0 until the Pirates were finally able to break the scoreless tie in the 72nd minute when SHU’s Victor Manosalvas played a corner into the box that Brela was able to deflect on net.
At first, it appeared that Hawks junior goalie Stephen Graziani, who had three saves in the game, was able to block the shot before it crossed the goal line, however the referee ruled that it went in, and Seton Hall took a 1-0 lead.
After the goal, Monmouth was unable to generate any serious threat until the final minutes of the half. With 3:20 remaining, MU was awarded a free kick just outside to the SHU box. MU was able to get on the receiving end of the kick and head it on net. Except the Pirates keeper, Julian Spindler, made an incredible save to preserve the 1-0 lead.
After just missing out on tying the score, MU was dealt another blow a few seconds later when senior forward Joseph Schmid was disqualified for receiving his second yellow card of the game forcing the Hawks to finish the game a man down.
With less than two minutes remaining it seemed that Seton Hall would be able to run out the clock and escape with the victory.
However, with just over 50 seconds left in the game, the Hawks were able to capitalize on a scoring chance when sophomore midfielder, David Acuna Camacho, sent a cross to the right post of the goal that Agyemang shot just over the head of Spindler to knot the score at 1-1.
With such little time remaining neither team was able to score again in regulation, and the game headed to overtime with Coach McCourt very happy about his teams comeback.
“I thought they showed a lot of character,” said McCourt. “We had one really great chance just before the goal, but their keeper made an outstanding save. Normally when that happens late in a game the kids kind of feel like ‘that was our chance, it’s gone’, but we came back again, so I thought the guys showed a ton of character and camaraderie to make a comeback like that, especially playing a man down.”
As neither team was able to score in the first ten minute overtime, the teams reapproched the field for a second ten minute overtime. The game lapsed a total of 110 minutes.
SHU was able to mount the only serious threat halfway through the second OT, but Graziani made a diving save to keep the scored tied. The game came to an end with neither team able to capitalize on their scoring chances.
Seton Hall outshot MU12 to 9. The two had seven corner kicks a piece.
Although the Hawks had hoped for better results, there was a consensus among the team that they were glad to avoid taking a loss.
“We definitely wanted to come out and get a win,” said Graziani. “But under the circumstances coming out with a tie, especially by scoring a last minute goal, was big for us, but there are no moral victories.”
With the tie, the men’s soccer team sports an 0-2-1 record on the season, while the Pirates moved to 1-0-2. Monmouth next plays host to Villanova on Wednesday September 11 at 7 pm. on the Great Lawn.
PHOTO COURTESY of MU Photography