WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ – Senior midfielder Colin Stripling (Scotch Plains, NJ/Scotch Plains-Fanwood) scored on a penalty kick in the 37th minute and senior goalkeeper Eric Klenofsky (Lincoln Park, NJ/DePaul Catholic) made seven saves as the No. 30 Monmouth University men’s soccer team played No. 15 Denver to a 1-1 draw in the season opener for both teams Friday night at Hesse Field on The Great Lawn.
Denver’s Graham Smith scored the equalizer in the 89th minute as Ryan Schaefer began a quick restart following a foul in the midfield, playing the ball into the box to Andre Shinyashiki, who chested it down to Smith for the strike from 12 yards out. Stripling led the Hawks with four shots, including two on goal. Denver took an 18-15 edge in shots and a 13-9 advantage in corner kicks in an evenly-played contest.
QUOTES & NOTES
“We were questioning the team’s makeup a bit in preseason. But we came out and played against a team that’s nationally-ranked in every poll and we got a draw at home. We had to sit in a little bit in the second half. But we really created some exciting chances. When we were sitting in, it was a little bit boring for the fans to watch. But we had some great chances in the first half and great chances in overtime, so I think it was exciting for the great group of fans we had today.” – Head Coach Robert McCourt
“This team showed a lot of character tonight. I feel like bad teams find a way to lose that game today. We had character getting a point. We’re thinking about Sunday now.” – Senior midfielder Colin Stripling
“We had to come out hard after two losses in the scrimmages. We had to come together as a team and we were able to figure it out. It says we have a lot of mental toughness. I know a couple of guys were getting cramped up and I was getting cramped up myself. So I thought the mental toughness was there and that will help us going forward.” – Junior back Joey Gudzak
- Monmouth was awarded its penalty kick when Brandon McCarthy was taken down in the box chasing after the rebound of Jake Areman’s shot from 25 yards out.
- The Hawks played their first home match against a nationally-ranked team since the 2009 NCAA Tournament First Round against No. 12 Connecticut, when MU advanced on penalty kicks.
- Monmouth is now 9-1-3 in home openers under Head Coach Robert McCourt and 7-5-1 in season openers under the 13th year head man.
- Senior goalkeeper Eric Klenofsky made his 55th consecutive start and his 56th straight appearance in goal for the Hawks.
- Junior Jake Areman and freshmen Andy Martinez, John Antunes, Ryan Wells and Michael Luke all made their Monmouth debuts. Areman, Martinez, Antunes and Luke also each earned their first starts in the Blue & White.
- Friday’s meeting was the first in the all-time series between Monmouth and Denver.
- Monmouth is now 15-16-4 in season openers and 20-10-4 in home openers.
- Denver had the nation’s longest unbeaten streak (18 games) last season, while Monmouth’s 17-game unbeaten streak ranked second.
CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS
- Preseason All-American goalkeeper Eric Klenofsky made seven saves, two off his career high of nine, established in the 2015 MAAC Championship Game against Rider.
- Monmouth attempted just one penalty kick in all of 2015. Former Hawk and current assistant coach David Acuña Camacho buried the chance.
- Colin Stripling led the Hawks with six goals a year ago and begins 2016 with the team lead.
- Denver took an 18-15 edge in shots and a 13-9 advantage in corner kicks. The Pioneers also benefitted from a 16-7 discrepancy in foul calls.
- Both teams were whistled for offside once.
The Hawks play host to UMass Lowell on Sunday at 1 p.m. The River Hawks defeated Northeastern, 2-1, Friday night in Boston.