Men's Soccer Alive and (Penalty) Kicking into NCAA Sweet 16
Montclair, NJ – It was a long weekend for the Montclair State men's soccer team but in the end it was all worth it. For the second straight night the Red Hawks were pushed to the limit but once again came through as MSU is moving on to the Sectional Tournament in the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championship next weekend. Montclair (17-1-4) outlasted New York University in penalty kicks 5-4 after the two battled to a 1-1 draw in 110 minutes of action. That sets up a third meeting of the season against Ramapo College in the "Sweet" 16 at 1:30 pm on Saturday, November 17 at Tufts University. Amherst and host Jumbos making up the other half of the sectional. The Saturday winners square off on Sunday, November 18 for a berth in the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championship in Greensboro, NC on November 30 and December 1.. It will be Montclair's first trip to the "Sweet 16" since 2013 and the seventh time in its history. Perhaps a little foreshadowing for later on, MSU took a 1-0 lead at the 12:25 mark of the first half as RAFAEL TERCI was taken down inside the box on the left side setting up a penalty kick which he converted for a his 12th of the season. Montclair held the lead until the waning moments of the first half when the Violets (12-4-3) knotted things up. Ricardo Mitrano found Matteo Russo at the top of the box with the latter firing a shot that deflected off a Montclair player and into the back of the net with 34 seconds remaining before halftime. That's where things would stay as keepers Grant Engel (7) and MIKE SAALFRANK (3) combined to stop all 10 shots on goal in the second half. Engel posted another in the first overtime against Terci with 1:27 left and opened the second OT with a stop versus ANTHONY PELAEZin the first two minutes. Two minutes later it was Saalfrank with a save against Robert Shellow as for the second straight night both teams were headed for penalty kicks. Terci and Mitrano converted their first-round attempts and the teams did so again in the second round. Saalfrank denied NYU in the third round and a make by CHAZ BURNETT put the shootout at 3-2. Oliver Kleban kept pace for NYU but KEVIN SIMEK scored on his try moving he score to 4-3. Sergio Monton kept NYU's chances alive with his make in the fifth round however MICHAEL KNAPP ended the shootout as the Red Hawks captured the PKs, 5-4. Engel made 10 saves for the Violets with Saalfrank posting seven for MSU, which outshot NYU 26-17 in the contest. The Red Hawks also held a 6-3 advantage in corner kicks. Next weekend's meeting with Ramapo will be a rare third in the same season, a first for Montclair State, which has captured the two previous in 2018. MSU won 2-0 at home back on October 6 and then defeated the Roadrunners 5-0 in the NJAC Championship Game at MSU Soccer Park on November 2. It will also be the first time Montclair will face an NJAC opponent in the NCAA Tournament since 2013 when MSU fell to Rutgers-Camden in the Sectional Final, 2-1 and the eighth time overall.