Montclair, NJ (10/17/09) – Trailing 1-0 heading into the final 30 minutes of play, fifth-ranked Montclair State exploded for four goals as the Red Hawks wrapped up the NJAC regular-season championship for the third time in four years with a 4-1 win over Richard Stockton at Sprague Field on Saturday evening.
Senior midfielder Michael Cullen (Clementon, NJ / Highland) scored two of those goals as the Red Hawks remained unbeaten on the year at 13-0-1 while improving to 7-0-0 in the NJAC. Montclair extended its NJAC regular-season winning streak to 18 games and 23 games overall versus conference foes, which includes NJAC and NCAA Tournaments.
Junior forward Rafael Duarte (Ocean City, NJ / Ocean City) scored the lone goal for the Ospreys, who fell to 10-5-1 overall and an even 3-3-1 in the NJAC. Stockton fell to fifth-place in the standings at 10 points, two-points ahead of sixth-place Rutgers-Camden.
MSU will be the top seed and have home-field advantage for the NJAC Tournament which gets underway on Saturday, October 31. Montclair will have a first-round bye and host a semifinal contest on Wednesday, November 3.
Richard Stockton was the last team to beat Montclair State at home as the Ospreys recorded a 5-2 win on October 25, 2005. Since then MSU had not lost at home, setting an NCAA record for consecutive home victories with 42.
But Duarte’s team-best ninth goal of the season looked as though it would put an end to the streak as he tallied in the 19th minute on Stockton’s only shot of the half. Sophomore Sal Pistone (Blackwood, NJ / Highland) got the assist as the Ospreys put Montclair in a trailing mode for just the third time this season.
Meanwhile, the Red Hawks put forth eight shots in the first half and four more in the second however Stockton goalkeeper Lou Herring (Freehold, NJ / Freehold) made four saves and got some help from the crossbar in the 58th minute as Mike Pytlar’s (Califon, NJ / West Morris) shot clanked off the metal bar allowing the Ospreys to maintain their one-goal advantage.
But the Red Hawks kept firing and finally cracked the scoreboard at 59:11 when Sean Tyree (Somerset, NJ / South Brunswick) fired a corner kick the ducked inside the near post for his first goal of the season as Montclair knotted the game at 1-1.
It took just five-plus for minutes for Montclair to take the lead for good as Pytlar found Cullen for the first of his two goals as MSU went in front 2-1 at 64:52.
Montclair State, which outshot the Ospreys 16-3 in the second half, kept the offensive pressure up and extended the lead at the 73:04 mark as two Red Hawk goal scorers hooked up with Tyree assisting Cullen on his second of the game and seventh of the year.
Herring finished with six saves for Stockton, which was outshot 24-4 in the game. Teddy Ritter (Belford, NJ / Middletown North) stopped one shot for Montclair State, which owned a 6-3 advantage in corner kicks in the contest.
Montclair State is back on the field on Monday, October 19 as the Red Hawks host Hunter College at MSU Soccer Park beginning at 3:00 pm. Richard Stockton in off until Wednesday, October 21 when they travel to Dover, DE to face Wesley College in a 7:00 pm contest.