Soccer John Egan

Men’s Soccer Finish Season in the MAAC Finals

After a long weekend of battles at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, FL, the men’s soccer team came up just short of a MAAC Championship Title. The first seeded Hawks suffered a 3-2 loss to the second-seeded Rider Broncs on Monday, Nov. 9 The loss breaks the Hawks’ 17-game unbeaten streak, which is now a standing national record.

The Blue and White fought hard through the final game this season and although they did not win the championship, Head Coach Rob McCourt said the team’s effort was a win in itself.

“The boys are disappointed right now, but we’ve had a fantastic season. I’d like to pay tribute to our group of seniors. They’ve had outstanding careers at Monmouth and should be proud,” Coach McCourt said.

The Hawks travelled a challenging road to get to the finals, first playing the ninth seed Manhattan Jaspers in the quarterfinals. During which, Monmouth dominated possession of the ball for a majority of the first half and striking in the ninth minute with a goal from junior mid Miguel Alves (his fifth of the season).

The Jaspers notched one goal in the 47th minute, but that would be their last. Monmouth junior goalkeeper, Eric Klenofsky, saved eight shots on the. Senior mid David Acuna-Camacho scored during the 86th minute to seal the win.

Going into the semifinals against fifth-seeded Iona on Sunday, Nov. 8, the Hawks lead the MAAC in total goals (37), total points (107) and shutouts (7), goals against average (0.90) and win-lost percentage (0.737).

The Hawks took an early lead against Iona when senior defenseman Derek Luke’s corner kick to the far post lead to an awesome header by freshman defender Zach Pereira in the 22nd minute of play.

Then, in the 43rd minute, Acuna-Camacho found senior Dan Pizzimenti who beat out Iona’s goalkeep making the score 2-0 Monmouth. Iona’s lone goal was seen in the 53rd minute off a penalty kick.

The top-seeded Hawks had strong momentum going into the ultimate game of their 2015 season. Rider scored the first goal of the game during the 44th minute of play. Ten minutes later, the Broncs scored again. MU got on the board in the 80th minute when Pizzimenti headed the ball to Pereira who scored from close range. Less than 20 seconds later, Rider’s Aaron Freeman scored securing the Broncs’ 3-1 victory.

As of Oct. 27, Monmouth was ranked no. 22 in the NSCAA NCAA Division I Men’s National Poll and no. 26 in the College Soccer News Top 30 National Poll. Since 2012, this is the team’s highest ranking in the NSCAA Poll.

Although the Hawks did not see victory in the finals against Rider, the received multiple individual accolades.

In conclusion to their season, Camacho earned MAAC Defensive Player of the Year, Klenofsky was named MAAC Goalkeeper of the Year and Coach McCourt was selected as the Lids MAAC Sport Coach of the Year.

A significant amount of players were also named to All MAAC First Team were Camacho, Klenofsky, Luke, junior forward Dave Nigro, junior midfielder Colin Stripling, and freshman midfielder Anderson Asiedu. Senior defender John Egan was named to All MAAC Second Team while Pereira joined Asiedu on the MAAC All-Rookie Team.

“It’s great to see all these players get recognition from coaches in the MAAC,” said McCourt. “They have had a sensational run of good form which is a direct reflection, and commitment to the Monmouth jersey. I am very proud of them.”

The team’s commitment does not stop once they set foot on the sidelines.

In addition to on field recognition, seven players were named to the MAAC All-Academic Team. Camacho, Egan, Klenofsky, Luke, Alves, sophomore midfielder Andrew Gee, and junior midfielder Brandon McCarthy racked up at least a 3.2 GPA on a 4.0 scale in the classroom.

PHOTO COURTESY of Taylor Jackson