By Evan McMurtrie/FC Monmouth
FC Monmouth battled out a 1-1 draw with Philadelphia Lone Star FC on Saturday night at Count Basie Park, bumping their record in the 2019 National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) season to 2-1-1.
“It was a good game,” said defender and REFIX Man of the Match Dylan McDonald. “They’re a very good side, we fought hard the whole game. I think it shows the character of our team that we were really disappointed to get the tie.”
The quality of play in the match was a treat for all spectators as both sides pushed to attack each other on the counter with pace throughout the first half. Lone Star’s captain and bearer of the No. 10 shirt, Anthony Allison, was a handful for the FC Monmouth defense throughout the 90 minutes. The forward came into Saturday as one of the Keystone Conference’s top goal-scorers, scoring six of Lone Star’s eight goals in league play leading up to the match.
The first huge chance of the game fell to Allison after Lone Star won possession in midfield and played him through. After cutting onto his left foot, Allison slid a shot past goalkeeper Jake Leahy, but it rattled off of the post and back across goal. A heroic defensive effort from defender Zach Pereira cleared the danger for FC Monmouth after the goalmouth scramble had ensued.
Six minutes later, Allison scored what would have been the opening goal, but it was flagged for offside.
“He’s [Allison] a good player, but credit to Pablo [Fonseca], Zach [Pereira], and Andrew [Venezia], they worked their butts off the whole game,” ” said McDonald. “We’ve got really good chemistry.”
After a number of blistering counter-attacks from FC Monmouth, staunch defending to keep Lone Star at bay, and a handful of offsides calls, the first half ended in a scoreless draw.
Just five minutes into the second half, FC Monmouth scored the opening goal. Forward Brian Hawkins took a shot from just inside of the box that was parried by the goalkeeper into the path of midfielder Sam DeCencio, who placed the rebound into the back of the net. DeCencio scored the first goal in FC Monmouth’s home opener on May 18th, too, and Saturday’s goal puts him at two on the season.
In the 70th minute, Philadelphia Lone Star was awarded a penalty kick, which Allison scored to make it 1-1. After scoring the equalizer, the visitors pushed for a game-winner, but FC Monmouth defended their goal fearlessly until the final whistle blew.
“It absolutely is a great result,” said FC Monmouth head coach Brian Woods. “For me, the work that the kids put in tonight — and it’s been like that for the last few matches, even the match we lost. But the work they put in tonight was outstanding. I can’t say enough about the team. These guys will do everything we ask them to do, they knew what was gonna happen and they didn’t back down.”
With midfielder Bryant Knibbs unavailable for selection, midfielder Dylan Fogerty made his first career start for the club on Saturday. A Red Bank native, Fogerty has been a member of FC Monmouth since the beginning of its inaugural campaign in 2018, and he had featured in 14 matches for the club off of the bench before getting the start versus Lone Star.
“I’ve been itching, honestly since I’ve joined, for them to call my name,” Fogerty said. “It’s an honor to represent my hometown.”
Saturday’s draw sees FC Monmouth come out of a week where they were tasked with facing Atlantic City FC and Lone Star within a four-day span with four points.
“I’m happy about it,” Woods said. “Those were two tremendous sides that we played against and to come out with four points after those two matches is something that we can only — at times, when I looked at the schedule I thought, ‘This is gonna be a hard run,’ but I’m happy for them, I’m ecstatic for the four points, and we’ll just go from there.”
With the result, FC Monmouth remain undefeated at Count Basie Park over the seven home games played in their history.
“I just love the fact that we defend our home field with more conviction than I could ever expect,” said Woods. “I mean, you got guys [that] didn’t even know what Count Basie Park was, and they care more about coming here and playing in front of these fans — which was a great crowd tonight — and more about putting on this uniform in Count Basie Park than… I can’t say enough about it. It was a great showing tonight and I’m glad they care about this home field advantage that we have.”
Photos Courtesy of FC Monmouth