LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL – Zachary Pereira (Rahway, NJ/St. Benedict’s) and Dan Pizzimenti (Manalapan, NJ/Christian Brothers Academy) scored first-half goals as the top-seeded Monmouth University men’s soccer team defeated fifth-seeded Iona, 2-1, Sunday afternoon in the MAAC Championship Semifinals at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. With the win, the Hawks advance to Monday’s Championship Game at noon on ESPN3 against hOURglass rival and second-seeded Rider, which defeated Siena, 3-2, in Sunday’s second semifinal. The Hawks (13-3-4) pushed their unbeaten streak to 17 games, the longest in the nation, while the Gaels end their season at 10-7-3.
The Hawks scored first in the 22nd minute, when Derek Luke’s (Bridgewater, NJ/Bridgewater-Raritan) corner kick to the far post found Pereira’s head for the score from inside the six-yard box.
Monmouth struck again in the 43rd minute, when the Hawks were awarded with a free kick from 15 yards wide left of the 18-yard box. David Acuña Camacho (Heredia, Costa Rica/Costa Rica YNT) curled the service toward the near post, where a streaking Pizzimenti flicked it on past Iona goalkeeper Julian Petrello and the Iona back line for the goal. The score gave Monmouth 11 different players with two or more goals this season, the most in the nation.
Iona cut the Hawks’ lead to 2-1 in the 54th minute on Jon-Luke Ferrandino’s penalty kick. Things then got chippy a minute later as Colin Stripling (Scotch Plains, NJ/Scotch Plains) was fouled and both benches cleared. When the dust settled, Iona’s Jordan Scarlett was sent off with a red card, while Stripling and Iona’s Luis Mendoza were shown yellow cards.
The two goals give Monmouth 39 on the season, the fifth-most in program history and the most since 1993.
For the game, Iona took a 10-9 edge in shots, but Monmouth took a 7-5 advantage in shots on goal. Monmouth took eight corner kicks to the Gaels’ five. Eric Klenofsky (Lincoln Park, NJ/DePaul Catholic) made four saves in the win, while Petrello made five saves in defeat.