Despite breaking a four-game goal drought in a 2-0 win over College of Staten Island, the men’s soccer team dug itself deeper into a hole last week with a 2-1 loss at NJAC leaders Montclair State University.
The result left the Lions (4-7-2, 0-4) winless in NJAC play nearly halfway through the season and in desperate need of points — as well as a little luck — to make a late-season push for the playoffs.
There were only a few positives to take away from the loss at Montclair, but the highlight was freshman forward Thomas Hogue scoring the College’s first goal in conference play.
“The play was set up by Peter Dresch dribbling past the Montclair defenders and crossing the ball centrally,” Hogue said. “I drifted into the open space at the top of the box where I would be able to get an open shot off if the ball came to me. (Senior midfielder) Kevin McCartney was able to find me, and I got a shot off that went to the side of keeper and into the net before he had time to react.”
The goal came in the 42nd minute to put the Lions in good position for the second half while on the road against a talented team ranked 22nd in Division III.
“The goal definitely improved the team’s morale going into halftime,” Hogue said. “We felt optimistic in getting a positive result against a good team. We knew we would have to be alert the second half because Montclair would be fired up after going down a goal.”
It would not be enough, though, as the Red Hawks would tie things up in the 80th minute and score the game-winner almost immediately upon entering overtime.
“Montclair is tough to play against due to their strength in the back and speed on the flanks. The wingers use their speed to get in behind us and cross balls into the box which creates problems for our defense,” Hogue said. “Their goal came from a forward getting on the end of a cross played in from the right flank.”
The loss overshadowed a drought-breaking performance mid-week against Staten Island, who the Lions skinned on set pieces for a 2-0 win in Lions Stadium.
After a fairly even and uninspiring first hour of play, the scoring started in the 65th minute. McCartney hit a low free kick from the right of the penalty box to senior defender Ryan Sullivan, who was left unmarked at the near post.
Sullivan hit a shot across Staten Island’s goalkeeper, who got a glove on the ball but couldn’t keep it out for the Lions’ first goal in 371 minutes.
Freshman forward Michael Kassak added his second of the season for the Lions just 15 minutes later, as lax marking from Staten Island punished the visitors yet again.
Kassak was left alone on a late run toward the six-yard box, and was able to roof his shot and double the College’s advantage in style.
It was only a consolation victory, however. The Lions will ultimately be judged by their results in the NJAC, and their last opportunity to salvage the season could come up against similarly fruitless New Jersey City University (1-9-3, 0-4-0) this Wednesday, Oct. 8, at the soccer complex.
“A win against NJCU is a must for turning the season around,” Hogue said. “With only five conference games left, every one is crucial if we want to qualify for post-season play, and defeating NJCU would be a great place to start.”