Men's Soccer Heads Back to NJAC Championship Game; Red Hawks Beat Rutgers-Newark, 4-1

Montclair, NJ (11/4/09) – Junior forward Larry Geraghty (Cranford, NJ / St. Benedict’s Prep) scored a pair of goals as top-seeded and three-time defending champion Montclair State advanced to the New Jersey Athletic Conference Men’s Soccer Championship Game for the fourth straight year with a 4-1 victory over No. 4 seed Rutgers-Newark at Sprague Field on Wednesday evening.

Twin brothers Michael and Joe Cullen (Clementon, NJ / Highland) each added goals as the ninth-ranked Red Hawks improved to 16-1-2 on the season. Montclair State will face No. 3 seed Rowan University in the championship game on Saturday, November 7 at Sprague Field. Kickoff is set for 7:00 pm with the winner earning the conference’s automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Championship.

The victory was also the 128th career win for MSU head coach Brian Sentowski, who tied current assistant coach Rob Chesney (1991-2001) for the all-time win mark in program history. Sentowski, the 2009 NJAC Coach of the Year, is 128-27-14 in his eight seasons.

Freshman Chris DeFalco (Manalapan, NJ / Manalapan) scored the lone goal for Rutgers-Newark, which fell to 13-5-4 on the season. The loss ended a tremendous conference season by the Scarlet Raiders, who were making their first appearance in the tournament semifinals. Prior to this season, Rutgers-Newark had lost 37 consecutive conference matches but finished 4-3-2 to earn the number four seed.

The Scarlet Raiders will be among the teams in consideration for an ECAC Tournament berth which will be announced on Monday, November 9. Last year Rutgers-Newark reached the championship game of the ECAC Metro Tournament before falling in penalty kicks to William Paterson.

The second game between the Scarlet Raiders and Red Hawks proved to be more like the first one (a 1-0 MSU double-overtime victory) as the two played scoreless soccer through the first 40 minutes. Each goalkeeper came up with two saves as Matt Zielyk (West Orange, NJ / Seton Hall Prep) stopped Sean Tyree (South Brunswick, NJ / South Brunswick) 10 minutes in and Teddy Ritter (Belford, NJ / Middletown North) denied  Luis Valle (West Orange, NJ /West Orange) just under five minutes later.

In the 43rd minute, Chris Tatro (Somerville, NJ / Somerville) put through a ball to Joe Cullen on the right side. Cullen one-touched the ball toward the near post where Geraghty was able to knock the shot by Zielyk as Montclair grabbed a 1-0 lead. It was Geraghty’s seventh goal of the season.

Michael Cullen would extend that advantage at the 56:59 mark of the second half as he beat two defenders before slipping a shot inside the left corner for his 10th of the year as MSU led 2-0. Five minutes later it was brother Joe, the NJAC Midfielder of the Year, getting into the scoring column as he blasted in a free kick for his fifth tally as the Montclair led grew to three.

De Falco would get the Scarlet Raiders on the board with 16:08 to go as he collected his fourth goal of the season. But that would be just the first of two shots by the Scarlet Raiders in the half as the Montclair State defense tightened.

Geraghty would finish off the scoring in the 85th minute as he knocked in a pass from Thomas Benack (Sparta, NJ / Lenape Valley) for the final margin.

Ritter finished with three saves and Zielyk two for Rutgers-Newark, which out corner-kicked MSU 6-0 in the game, but were outshot 15-8 in the contest.

Saturday’s championship game will be the second meeting between MSU and Rowan this season. Montclair won the regular-season contest, 2-1 in Glassboro on September 19. Benack had the game-winning goals as he banged in a diving head with 5:23 left in the second half.