The Montclair State University women’s soccer team started the season strong, going undefeated with a 10-0 record and riding high in the competition.
Head coach Patrick Naughter is not the only one to have contributed to this exceptional departure. There are three other names in this coaching staff, the three former players and only one who recently graduated last year.
Catherine Carnevale, who was part of the 2021 team that competed in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) tournament, saw the vacancy and took advantage of it. As Naughter entered his 13th season as head coach, he needed a group that could help him, not just with the football, but with the connection between the players and himself.
“I wanted to bring in people who were passionate, knew the game, cared about the kid,” Naughter said. “I know it’s really important to have coaches they can relate to and connect with. It’s been a long time since I was in college, so that’s one of the things that’s becoming more and more difficult to understand outside of football.
Naughter also had a ton of praise for the former player and knew straight away that she would be a perfect fit for the coaching staff.
“Having someone like [Carnevale] Who knows these children, [I know] what kind of player she was, what teammate she is and what kind of person she is, that was a no-brainer,” Naughter said. “[Carnevale] has a ton of women’s soccer experience from Montclair State, playing for me, playing here, coming to school here and she’s one of the best players to ever play here.
During Carnevale’s playing time at Montclair State, she was named to the second-team All-NJAC team three times, named to the first-team All-NJAC team, and during that same season in 2020, she won NJAC Midfielder of the Year. With all this success, she wanted to continue her involvement with the team.
“It worked perfectly,” Carnevale said. “I knew all the other coaches were gone, [but] I always wanted to be part of the program somehow because I loved it here.
Carnevale is not just a football coach. She juggles being a coach and being a full-time nursing student at Caldwell University. Even with the previous experience of being a student-athlete at Montclair State, it was difficult to initially navigate for Carnevale as a coach.
“It’s really tough, the first two weeks have been an adjustment,” Carnevale said. “Before I was a student-athlete, I needed to find a balance between the two. So I go to school in the morning and then I come here to train and then I have to figure out when to study. [and] homework.
Moving on to the next phase of life is tough for anyone, but for Carnevale, she still has that Red Hawk mentality and so far she’s rediscovering it as a member of the women’s soccer team. . When she finds time to be on the court, Carnevale enjoys seeing how first-year players improve so quickly.
“I wouldn’t say it reminds me of myself, but especially freshmen who step in and watch them being a key player on the court,” Carnevale said. “Also, playing with some of the older kids and watching them grow is more rewarding than comparing myself to them. Just seeing individual success and like as a team, being 10-0, I’ve never had that, so it’s great that way.
The Red Hawks have conceded just five goals this season compared to 22 against opposing teams. Naughter had a lot to say about why this team and its coaching staff are 10-0 going into the 2022 run.
“The team defended very well, pressing the ball and making the [other] very uncomfortable team,” Naughter said. “We move the ball very well, a lot of kids are able to attack, so I think it’s quite a diverse attack and they’re just [a] really hard working group overall.
Being one of the best players to play, not only for the Red Hawks but also for the NJAC, Carnevale left a mark on her playing career. Now she is looking to continue her coaching career here at Montclair State. And winning all 10 games in your first season as a manager is a good start.