WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Freshman forward Dave Nigro (Marlboro, N.J./Marlboro) scored the game-winning goal in the 79th minute as the Monmouth University men’s soccer team defeated Iona, 1-0, Wednesday night on The Great Lawn. With the win, the Hawks’ first ever in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference match, Monmouth improves to 2-5-3 (1-0-1 MAAC). The Gaels fall to 3-5-2 (0-1-1 MAAC).
“I’m happy to get our first win in the MAAC against a very good team in Iona,” said Monmouth Head Coach Robert McCourt. “I thought we were very good on both sides of the ball. We created some good goal-scoring chances in attack and I thought we were solid defending. It takes those kinds of nights to have success, especially in a new league. I’m happy with the guys’ performance and we have to carry some momentum now into the next game against Siena.”
Freshman goalkeeper Eric Klenofsky (Lincoln Park, N.J./DePaul Catholic) secured his first-career shutout, making one save in the clean sheet, while coming out to pull down or punch away several potential Iona scoring opportunities.
The Hawks kept pressure on Iona goalkeeper Julian Petrello, the reigning MAAC Defensive Player of the Week, all game long. The pressure resulted in a 14-7 discrepancy in shots, including a 6-1 edge in shots on goal. In the 10th minute, Petrello went low to save Francois “Paco” Navarro’s (Paris, France) shot from 20 yards directly in front of the net. Joseph Schmid (Kingston, Pa./Wyoming Valley West) collected the rebound at the left post, but his shot went wide.
Monmouth developed another quality scoring chance in the 26th minute, getting the ball to Colin Stripling (Scotch Plains, N.J./Scotch Plains-Fanwood) ahead of the pack, but his shot went wide of the right post. The Hawks threatened again in the 35th minute, when Tomas Penfold (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale) bent a shot across the goal mouth that sailed just wide of the right post. In the 45th minute, Jacob Rubinstein (Ocean Township, N.J./Ocean) slipped a shot past Petrello, but an Iona back sprinted to clear the shot off the goal line, leaving the match scoreless at the half.
Monmouth continued to apply pressure early in the second half. Schmid’s shot sailed over the crossbar in the 50th minute and Rubinstein sent Stripling on with a beautiful thru ball in the 52nd minute, but Petrello made the save. Emmanuel Senyah Agyemang (Kumasi, Ghana/KNUST University) managed a shot that sailed just over the crossbar off a corner kick in the 75th minute. Petrello saved a Navarro shot at 78:31, but 20 seconds later, after the ball bounced around the box, Nigro blasted a shot inside the right post past Petrello for the game-winning goal. The tally was Nigro’s second in as many games and his third of the season. Schmid was credited with an assist on the play. All three of Nigro’s goals this season have come after the 70th minute.
The Hawks’ best defense in the final 11 minutes was a strong offense, as Monmouth got off two more shots, one on goal, while allowing only a blocked shot to the Gaels. For the game, the Hawks took a 5-4 advantage in corner kicks.
The Hawks return to MAAC action Saturday, when they play host to Siena, which defeated Niagara, 1-0, earlier Wednesday in its MAAC opener. Kickoff from The Great Lawn is scheduled for 7 p.m.