Men’s Soccer Finds Early Success in MAAC

For the first time this season the men's soccer team won back-to-back games as they defeated Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) opponents Iona and Siena. With the wins, the Hawks improved their overall record to 3-5-3.

MU got past Iona on Wednesday night with a 1-0 win. Freshman forward Dave Nigro scored the lone goal of the night in the 79th minute, and fellow freshman goalkeeper Eric Klenofsky had his first career shutout in helping the Hawks get their first conference win as new members of the MAAC.

"It was a particularly big win because there is a little bit of a transition for us going into the MAAC," said Head Coach Robert McCourt. "Iona is a very good team so I thought it was a good confidence booster with a lot of MAAC games remaining."

The Hawks kept pressure on the Iona defense all game by dominating time of possession and keeping the ball on the Iona end of the field the majority of the game. MU started off hot and had several scoring chances to start the game.

Perhaps their best opportunity came in the final minute of the first half when senior forward, Jacob Rubinstein, put a shot on net that got past the keeper. Unfortunately, for the Hawks, an Iona defender sprinted back and cleared the ball just before it crossed the goal line, ending the half in a scoreless tie.

As the second half began, the blue and white continued to stay on the offensive and attack the Iona defense. After more than three quarters of the match had gone by the Hawks were finally able to find the back of the net with Nigro's goal.

Francois "Paco" Navarro got the attack started when he put a shot on net. The Iona keeper was able to block the shot, and the ball was deflected out by a defender. Sophomore defender John Egan gained control and sent the ball to Nigro in the box who received the pass and rifled a shot by the keeper for the game-winning goal.

"Egan played a great ball in, and I saw I had time to take a touch so I did and then just hit it lefty and it was in," said Nigro. "It felt great."

Monmouth kept the pressure on the rest of the game and Iona never had a great chance draw even. For the game, the Hawks had a 14-7 advantage in shots, and a 5-4 advantage in corner kicks.

Nigro and company were able to keep the momentum going as they beat the Sienna Saints 2-1 in another conference showdown on Saturday night. Navarro had a big game as he recorded both an assist and a score for the Hawks.

"I'm really happy for 'Paco'," said McCourt. "He's been working really hard all season, and it's nice to see him get on the score sheet. We're counting on him being one of our main guys, and this is really good for his confidence."

The Hawks got the scoring started in the 31st minute when freshman midfielder Colin Stripling played a ball into the box. Navarro controlled the lead pass and advanced on net. Navarro then crossed the ball to Rubinstein right in front of the goal line, and Rubinstein touched the ball into the net to give MU the 1-0 advantage.

Siena came right back only a few minutes later when sophomore Ryan Tauss was on the receiving end of teammates James Beeston's pass which he put past Klenofsky to knot the game at 1.

The fast pace of the game continued as the Hawks were able to re-take the lead in the final minute of the first half. Sophomore midfielder Tomas Penfold got the play started when he played an MU free-kick to Navarro in the box. Navarro then controlled the ball near the center of the box and sent a low shot past the Siena keeper to give Monmouth the lead for good.

As the game progressed through the second half both teams were unable to capitalize on opportunties, and each team saw chances to score slip away. The game eventually ended with the Hawks coming out on top by a score of 2-1. Monmouth outshot Sienna 11-8 on the game, while the Saints had a 6-4 advantage in corners.

With the win the Hawks moved to 2-0-1 in their new conference. "It's been nice for us to turn it around," said McCourt when asked about the team's success in their new conference. "We weren't getting results in the non-conference games so I think we've done a good job with getting results with conference games starting."

The team looks to continue their success this Wednesday, Oct. 16, when they travel to Rider to take on the Broncs. First kick is scheduled for 7:00 pm.