By Evan McMurtrie/FC Monmouth
FC Monmouth kicked off their 2019 National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) campaign with three points in their home opener with a 2-0 win over New Jersey Copa FC at Count Basie Park on Saturday evening.
“To be honest with you, I just loved the fact that they played as hard as they did,” said head coach Brian Woods. “I mean, from the moment we stepped on the field to the end, for a bunch of guys who are just getting to know each other, I love their energy, I love their enthusiasm, and I thought that they did everything that we asked them to do – they did it to a tee.”
After a flurry of early chances, FC Monmouth finally found the back of the net in the 36th minute through midfielder Sam DeCencio. Midfielder Brandon Kolczynski did a step-over near the left corner of the box before shifting the ball onto his right foot and slipping it across his body towards midfielder Bryant Knibbs, who flicked it with one touch into the middle. DeCencio turned his body towards the ball and slotted it into the back of the net with his left foot to open the scoring.
FC Monmouth outshot Copa 17-8 in the win, with 11 of them coming in the first half. Nine of Monmouth’s shots were on target, while the visitors failed to land any of their efforts on frame.
“We had a lot of chances in the first half and we couldn’t finish, so I just kept telling the guys, ‘It’s coming, it’s coming, it’s coming’, and eventually it did,” defender Zach Pereira said.
Copa began to apply pressure near the end of the first half, but FC Monmouth made it to the break in front thanks to DeCencio’s goal.
Just ten minutes into the second half, FC Monmouth doubled their advantage. Forward Martin Ssessanga’s shot was spilled back out in front of goal by Copa goalkeeper James Ward. Forward Regsan Watkins was in the right place at the right time, stretching out his left foot to dump the rebound in through Ward’s legs.
“I think the second ball is the whole game,” said Watkins. “Martin had the shot and I just saw the ball drop favorably and at that point I just knew throughout all of the other chances that I had during the game, I just had to make good contact and put my foot through it… as a forward – we love to score goals and me, I love to score goals, so to do that, first home game, it was really good, I really enjoyed it.”
Watkins’ six shots were the most by one player in a single game in club history as he went on to earn REFIX Man of the Match honors for his performance.
Watkins scored in the 55th minute to extend FC Monmouth’s lead on Saturday night.
The second goal settled the game down and the remainder of the match was quiet as FC Monmouth continued the rock-solid defensive display that they put on in the first half to lock up the 2-0 win.
“I think that they’re [the squad] still a little rusty coming off of their college seasons, they haven’t really done as much training as they need to do, and I think that they’re only going to get better as the season goes on,” said Woods. “I’m not worried about the ones that missed [training sessions/Ocean City friendly], I’m just happy that they’re getting chances right now.”
Pereira believed that the home supporters played a huge factor in the win.
“We love the fans, we love the support, we want to see even more support as we come closer into the season and make a playoff push,” Pereira said.
FC Monmouth and New Jersey Copa FC will have a quick turnaround, facing each other again in a rematch at Saint John Vianney High School in Holmdel, NJ on Wednesday May 22 at 5:30 pm.
Photo Credit: Mike Langish