RED BANK, NJ - FC Monmouth moved up to the top of the Keystone Conference table for the first time in club history after defeating Torch FC at Count Basie Park, 3-1, on Saturday night.
“This, I guess in this day and age, is called a ‘trap game’,” said Head Coach Brian Woods. “Knowing that we were going into three of the biggest matches of the year, and especially playing [FC] Motown, I could see us overlooking this team (Torch). I did all we could to make sure that we didn’t overlook this team.”
The visitors took a surprise lead in the fourth minute off of what was their fourth corner kick in that span. A cross was sent in and headed down by forward Corban Crosley. It bounced just inside of the right post to give Torch the early edge.
After dominating possession as they searched for an equalizer, FC Monmouth got it in the 35th minute from forward Anthony Rovito. Defender Zach Pereira chipped in a cross from the right wing that found its way to Rovito through traffic and untouched at the back post. The forward side-footed the ball into the roof of the net from close range with his first touch to level the score.
“It was a great service from Zach, unbelievable,” Rovito said. “Whipped in right behind the back four, between them and the keeper, and I was able to get there and get the finish.”
FC Monmouth came out firing less than 60 seconds into the second half, as REFIX Man of the Match Bryant Knibbs scored a goal just as beautiful as his long-distance strike on Wednesday. After passing his way through the Torch defense off of forwards Brian Hawkins and Regsan Watkins, Knibbs took a touch past the last defender in the box and slotted the ball into the corner to put the Blue and Gold in front.
“Knibbsy again, the same way as he did the other day, he really just took over the game,” Woods said.
“Goals are goals, but at the end of the day, three points is all we want,” said Knibbs. “It’s [REFIX MOTM] an honor, but again, it’s about the end result, it’s not just about me.”
Ten minutes later, Watkins extended FC Monmouth’s lead to two. After a shot was spilled back out in front of goal by the keeper, Watkins was in the right place at the right time to tap the ball into the back of the net from inside the six yard box.
“In the second half we came out with more urgency, more purpose,” said Assistant Coach Peter-John Falloon. “So the end result showed the change in attitude and mentality, I think that was the biggest difference.”
From there, FC Monmouth cruised their way to victory for the remainder of the second half, as Woods gave extended playing time to defender Mike Tapp, midfielders Paul Ramsey and Dakota Dobrovich-Fago, and forwards Anes Mrkulic and Sebastian Rodriguez.
“I was also happy that we got some guys some real quality time in this match, some guys who haven’t seen the field all that much,” said Woods.
With the win, FC Monmouth now faces three tough opponents to end the regular season: FC Motown, Atlantic City FC, and West Chester United SC, respectively.
Rovito said, “Mentally, we’re more than ready for any challenge that comes our way — next week, the week after that, continuing on.”