by Andrew Garda
Things change in moments on a soccer field and during a soccer season. A week ago, the Montclair High School girls soccer team had a surprising loss to Livingston during the Essex County Tournament by a score of 2-1. They couldn’t afford to hang their heads though, as the Mounties had to jump right back into tournament play Monday for the first round of the NJSIAA North 1, Group IV Tournament where they faced, and soundly beat, Hackensack.
The dominant 6-0 effort wasn’t a surprise to head coach Eric Weintraub, as he felt the team had come out of the loss to Livingston with their spirits intact.
“The girls were really upbeat,” he said after Monday’s win. “I’m not saying they were happy after a loss, but [we] didn’t feel like Livingston blew us out of the water.”
Weintraub credits the team leaders and a tight chemistry with steering the squad back on course after the exit from the ECT.
“We have good leadership from our captains and they’re a tight bunch,” he said of the overall team. “They get along really well. They like each other, they play for each other and they don’t want the season to end. We’ve just got to keep going out there, keep trying, keep working.”
That’s just what Montclair did against Hackensack, scoring early and often.
Sydney Masur started things off almost immediately as a shot she took was then deflected into the net. Shortly after that, Masur almost scored again on a pass from Becca Van Siclen. The Mounties kept pressing their advantage, led by Van Siclen, who looked determined to find the back of the net.
“I think she was hungry today,” Weintraub said of his star forward. “She wanted to jump on [Hackensack] early and then I felt like she also did a nice job later in the game of finding her teammates and trying to set some of the girls up for goals.”
Van Siclen, who has nine goals on the year along with four assists, is an electric player who can cut through defenses quickly from anywhere on the field.
Van Siclen would have to wait for her turn though, as fellow captain Nora Giordano put a rebound in the goal to get the Mounties up 2-1. Then Van Siclen scored and the Mounties were in control heading into the half, up 3-0.
“With the ball on [Van Siclen’s] feet you have to keep an eye on her,” Weintraub said. “She’s a real good player. I felt like maybe she tried to force it a little bit [today], but if she lets the game come to her , she’ll definitely put some in the back of the net.”
In the second half, Claire Manning, Clare Daddabbo and Evelyn Battleson-Gunkel added scores to get the Mounties to a 6-0 lead.
Weintraub was able to get a lot of his bench on the field, something that paid off both short term with goals, and perhaps long term as players get experience. He was pleased with the results of his bench players as well.
“The girls who came off the bench all played well today, gave great effort and I’m proud of the entire team.”
Now the Mounties head into the NJSIAA quarterfinals and will face No. 9 seed Ridgewood at Fortunato Field on Thursday at 2 p.m.