Montclair, NJ (11/10/08) – The Montclair State men’s soccer team, fresh off their third New Jersey Athletic Conference Championship, is heading back to the NCAA Division III Soccer Championship as the 58-team bracket for the national tournament was released on Monday.
For the third straight season the Red Hawks will receive a first-round bye and will host a second-round contest. Montclair will take on the winner of Westminster (PA) / Hunter College on Saturday, November 15 at MSU Soccer Park. Game time is scheduled for 1:00 pm. Westminster (16-5) and Hunter (11-7-2) will square off in the opening round on Thursday, November 13 in Pennsylvania.
Montclair is the only undefeated and untied team in the bracket as the Red Hawks currently sport a 20-0-0 record following their 1-0 win against Rutgers-Camden in the NJAC Championship Game this past Friday. MSU tied the single-season record for victories matching the 2006 squad, which went 20-1-1 and advanced to the “Sweet 16” of the NCAA Tournament. Last year, Montclair went a step further and reached the Elite 8, its best showing in the NCAAs, before falling to perennial national power Messiah College, 1-0.
This will be Montclair State's ninth trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament and 12th appearance overall as MSU appeared in three College Division Tournaments in 1968, 1969 and 1972. The three straight appearances mark the first time since the early 1990s (1990-1992) that the Red Hawks have made three consecutive appearances in the national tournament.
Montclair State, ranked No. 3 in the final regular-season National Soccer Coaches Association (NSCAA) Division III Poll, put the finishing touches on a perfect NJAC campaign last week. The Red Hawks went unbeaten against conference opponents for the second time in three years posting an 11-0 mark and capping a three-year run in which it went 31-2 versus league competition (regular-season and tournament). Overall, MSU is 59-4-3 in the last three seasons.
Seniors Tyler Masterson ( Long Valley, NJ / West Morris Central) and Owen Amster ( Somerville, NJ / Somerville), named the NJAC Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week on Monday, lead MSU into the NCAA Tournament. Both were named the conference’s Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectively, and were two of six All-NJAC selections as they joined goalkeeper Nick Mele (Delran, NJ / Delran), midfielders John Esposito (Hillside, NJ / Hillside) and Joseph Cullen (Clementon, NJ / Highland) and sophomore Mike Krol (Howell, NJ / Howell) . In addition, senior Eric Pfeifer (Wyckoff, NJ / Ramapo) was named the recipient of the David Logar Leadership Award.
Masterson, who scored the championship-winning goal versus Rutgers-Camden, leads the NJAC in scoring with 39 points on 14 goals and 11 assists. The Red Hawks, ranked fifth in the NCAA in scoring offense, boast six players with 10 or more points, including four with 20-plus (Masterson, Esposito (30), Joe Cullen (25), Mike Cullen (21)). In addition the Red Hawks, who have outscored their opponents 71-7 this season, have the No. 5 ranked defense led by All-American Mele, who has the second-lowest goals against average in the nation at 0.34 along with 10 shutouts as Montclair has registered 13 of those in 2008.
The Red Hawks have never faced Westminster and are 4-0 against Hunter, including a 3-0 victory over the Hawks back on October 20. Masterson scored two goals in the win.Should Montclair State win on Saturday, a potential Sweet 16 meeting looms against Messiah, which has won five of the last six national championships. The Falcons (16-2-2) face Medaille (13-5-2) in the opening round on Saturday and would meet the winner of Rochester (13-2-2) / Castleton State (11-8-1) in the second round on Sunday.