FC Monmouth defeated the second-best team in the Keystone Conference, West Chester United SC, in a historic 1-0 decision that saw the club complete its inaugural season in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) undefeated at Count Basie Park.
“This team is really amazing,” said FC Monmouth head coach Brian Woods. “If it wasn’t for the fact that they wanted to win this more than anything else, we would’ve gotten hurt bad tonight in this game because that team that we faced [WCUSC] was awesome.”
For the majority of the first half, West Chester United SC pushed hard for the opening goal, forcing FC Monmouth to sit deep in their own half and focus on defending first.
“They were a good, solid team that moved well with the ball up front,” said defender Brandon Goldy. “I think we did really well to see out the pressure and clear our lines. We did a better job as the game went on of getting some possession up front, and that was what lead to the goal.”
In stoppage time just before the end of the first half, forward Jordan Saling scored what was his fourth goal of the season and the lone goal of the match. After FC Monmouth won possession of the ball just inside of their own half near the sideline, midfielder George Akampeke sent a first-time pass in the air that cut in between the two center backs and played Saling in on goal.
The forward ran onto the pass and broke away from the defenders as the keeper rushed out. Saling brought the ball onto his right foot and placed his shot on the ground and into the bottom right corner of the net.
“From the beginning I knew that I had to use my speed to get in behind,” he said. “It was tough at first, but as the game went on they [WCUSC] started to get impatient and started to send more numbers [to attack]. George [Akampeke] played a good through ball and I got through.”
In the second half, West Chester United continued to search for an answer. With just over ten minutes left to play, the visitors were unable to convert their best chance of the match when Martyn’s shot from point-blank range was skied over the crossbar after a pass was sent into the box on the ground from the right wing. West Chester’s seven shots on target forced goalkeeper Scott Weigel into making five saves. In stoppage time, he dove to his right to save an Amspacher free kick that was sent goalward.
Woods and his players believe that playing at Count Basie Park gives them an advantage over their opponents.
“I know the owners do a great job, but they don’t know how much they really control the guys,” Woods added. “The guys feed off of the fact that the owners care this much.:
“Being able to look into the stands and see the majority of the crowd there to support us was huge, and as the game went on and emotions started to flare up a little bit I think the crowd did a really good job of supporting us and pushing us through to the final whistle,” Goldy said.
“The fans are amazing, we have the best fans,” said Saling. “The owners go so hard. They bring a lot of people, they bring flags, they bring posters, they really make us feel at home… as you can see it’s helped, we’re undefeated at home.”
The win bumped FC Monmouth’s record in the NPSL’s Keystone Conference up to 5-3-1 ahead of their last match of the regular season on Saturday where they will be playing New Jersey Copa FC once again, this time on the road at Mercer County Community College.
“These guys are gonna show up and they’re gonna play their asses off,” said Woods. “This team is gonna play with everything they have to be in the playoffs.”
Contributor: Evan McMurtrie/FC Monmouth
Photo Credit: FC Monmouth