Jaspers Fall to Monmouth on Penalty Kicks in MAAC Semifinal
FAIRFIELD, Conn. – In their first appearance in a four-team Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) playoff since 2001, the Manhattan men’s soccer team fought valiantly but ultimately fell in penalty kicks, 3-0, to Monmouth. It was the second time this season the Jaspers held the Hawks scoreless in 110 minutes of play.
The Jaspers survived a flurry in the 11th minute as Monmouth worked their way towards the top of the box. After Alex Coates McDowall denied one scoring opportunity, Joseph Schmid gathered the ball for the Hawks and blasted a shot that hit off the post and ricocheted out of bounds. That trend would continue as Monmouth controlled possession throughout the first half. After an offside call denied another chance, Coates McDowall stopped a long Francois Navarro attempt that kept the match scoreless.
Manhattan finally got their first real scoring opportunity in the 20th minute as Eugene Heerschap sent a blast from just outside the top of the box that was deflected just wide of the net, setting up a corner kick. However, Monmouth was able to successfully clear the ball and keep the Jaspers from getting another look at goal. That struggle continued the remainder of the half with the Hawks creating more opportunities but both defenses held strong.
Coming out the break it was a back-and-forth start to the half with both teams seemingly more aggressive. Both teams would have shots blocked by the opposing backline in the first five minutes before Heerschap had a shot saved by Eric Klenofsky in the 48th minute. A couple minutes later, the Jaspers earned a corner kick and saw Daniel Festa send a header just wide of the net.
Monmouth had their first great chance of the half to break the deadlock in the 55th minute as a ball was looped into the box towards Jacob Rubinstein with space. Rubinstein however rushed his shot and sent it over the top of the goal. While the Hawks controlled much of the tempo in the first, Manhattan seemed to have the momentum throughout the second continuing to add pressure. Monmouth’s defense was bolstered by MAAC Defensive Player of the Year Matt Jeffery who continuously denied the Jaspers opportunities to score.
In the 71st minute, Monmouth turned up the intensity and almost broke the tie. Tomas Penfold had a brilliant chance right in front the net but Coates McDowall made a point blank save but couldn’t hold on to theball. Schmid found the rebound and had his shot blocked out of bounds. On the ensuing corner, Jeffery’s header went over the net giving the Jaspers a chance to breathe. That would not last long though as the Hawks sent another cross that was punched away by Coates McDowall, but right to Schmid. His shot got past the keeper but senior defender Samuel Howard kicked the ball away, preventing a goal.
Following that flurry, Manhattan had an attempt at a counter. Jake Scavetta controlled the ball of the right side of the box and attempted to send a low cross towards the near post. Daniel Laguna Kennedy was there but his back-heel touch was too weak and easily picked up by the Monmouth keeper. Moments later, Coates McDowall made a diving save on David Luke’s attempt to keep the contest scoreless with 10 minutes remaining in regulation.
Laguna Kennedy had his best chance of the night in the 81st minute right on the end line. With Klenofsky coming off his line, the freshman forward tried to chip it over the keeper but it went right into his chest for an easy save. On Monmouth’s next counter, Andrew Melitsanopoulos made a nice defensive play to again prevent a scoring chance.
With time winding down, both squads looked to avoid extra time. Festa brought everyone to their feet with a strike from 25 yards out that hammered off the crossbar with less than six minutes left and no one could capitalize on the rebound. That would be the last great chance for either team as the two teams would go to overtime for the second time this season.
Right off the bat, Manhattan started overtime with possession and Alex Shackley sent a ball deep into the Monmouth half that had to be saved by Klenofksy. In the 95th minute, Dominic Chavez sent a chip into the box but no Jasper was there to redirect the ball and Klenofsky made an easy play. The Hawks then came hard on a counter attack but Luke’s shot got blocked in front and Schmid whiffed on an opportunity to end the game. A few minutes later, Howard drew a foul 30 yards from net but Tommy Amos’ free-kick was easily saved. As time again ran off the clock, Edney Derrick gave it one last go but his distance shot missed over the crossbar to send the contest into a second overtime.
The second overtime began as a rather uneventful period, but that changed after five minutes. Laguna Kennedy had a near angle shot saved in the 105th minute for Manhattan before Jeffery again missed wide with a header moments later. Monmouth thought they had the match won as Edney buried a header in the net but he was called offside with under three minutes left. Neither team could score a goal forcing the two teams would leave it up to their best shooters.
The penalty kicks did not last long for the Jaspers. After Schmid converted on his attempt, Klenofsky made a save on Festa’s shot to give the Hawks a 1-0 advantage. David Acuna Camacho beat Coates McDowall to the left for the second penalty kick and Klenofsky again made the save, this time on Amos. Ahead 2-0 in PK’s, Luke made it a 3-0 lead for Monmouth before Laguna Kennedy sailed his shot high, giving Monmouth the victory.
Manhattan ended the season with a 5-10-3 overall record and reached the MAAC semifinals for the second time in three years. Monmouth (8-6-5) will face the winner of #2 Quinnipiac and #3 Iona on Sun., Nov. 17 at 1 p.m.
This was also the final match in the careers of seven Jasper seniors. Festa and Howard, along with Stefano Carlacci, Carlo Giachino, Sean Towey, Christopher Lands and Erick Montinard will end their time in Riverdale as just the fifth senior class in program history to compete in two MAAC Tournaments.