by Andrew Garda
Montclair High School’s boys soccer team is heading to the NJSIAA North 1, Group 4 finals, in part because of a very stout defense and some exceptional goaltending by senior Rowan O’Brien.
While long stretches of Tuesday’s 3-0 win over West Orange saw O’Brien watching the action rather than participating, he still had to stay sharp in case the Mountaineers fired off a shot his direction. They did, but O’Brien was perfect in net stopping all eight of West Orange’s shots.
In order to stay engaged and ready, O’Brien keeps up a steady stream of chatter — at his back-line, at the forwards, at anyone on his team.
“I never used to speak in the game,” O’Brien said after the win. “It took until last year and the coaches really helped me push myself. My parents helped me push myself to talk more too. I wouldn’t be able to play if I couldn’t talk.”
He spent some more time after the game talking to us as well.
Your younger brother Evan is on the team as well. What’s that like?
This is the first year I’ve ever played with him. Since he’s two years younger than me, I’ve never been able to play with him. It’s fun per se, but he doesn’t really mess up so I don’t get to scream at him. Other than that, it’s business as usual.
Besides soccer, what else do you like to do?
I like to work out, I like to play with my friends and play XBox. Watch football. I’m a very intense Boston fan and I like every Boston sports team. Even if I don’t follow [the sport], like the Bruins, I still follow them.
What XBox games do you play?
FIFA and Call of Duty, that’s about it.
Do you have a goaltender you like to watch for tips?
I usually just watch all of them. When I’m watching a game I pay attention to things like how they move their feet before they dive. Their feet are just ridiculous.
Who has inspired you in your life?
I try to follow my [older] brothers because both of them played college sports. One brother played lacrosse at Wesleyan, my other brother who is still in college at Brown. I want to keep going with them and try to up them. Because I can’t be the weak one in my family. So I try to outdo them. [Evan] has to outdo me now. We’ll see.
Where are you going to college and what do you want to study?
Right now I’m supposed to go to Wesleyan. I want to study something within economics or science. I’m good at math and science.