by Andrew Garda
LIVINGSTON—Nothing gets the taste of a disappointing loss out of a player’s mouth like a dominant win.
Forty-eight hours after the Montclair High School boys soccer team opened the season with a tough 1-0 loss to Seton Hall Prep Sept. 4, the Mounties visited Livingston determined to flip the script, which they did to the tune of a 3-0 win.
“[We were] more determined,” said head coach Toure Weaver. “We talked about just being more positive with our play. I thought a lot of times against Seton Hall, our passes weren’t forward thinking. They were like ‘let me just get the ball off my foot and if it’s backwards, I’m going backwards.’ Today I said, let’s play with confidence and let’s get going forward.”
That advice had the intended effect as MHS played very aggressively, fighting hard for 50-50 balls and harassing any Livingston player trying to move upfield.
The first breakthrough for Montclair came from Gardner Temkin, off a pass from Luca Campbell. The goal came right in front of the Lancers net, with several defenders scrambling to get ahold of it and clear it to no avail.
The Mounties struck next in the middle of the second half, when Felipe Gutierrez put the ball past the Livingston keeper off a Beck Schoenwetter pass. Montclair sealed the deal a short time later on a goal by Soren Tollis.
On the play, Tollis ran after a lead pass from Evan Best, beating the goalie and a pair of defenders to the ball and putting it in the back of the net.
Sebastian Herrera picked up the shutout in goal, stopping all four Lancer shots he faced.
Across the board, the Mounties played a hard, fast, aggressive game, focusing on controlling both the ball and the tempo of play, and constantly forcing the Lancers to play tentatively and defensively.
“After every game, I self-reflect and think about different things that I could have done better,” said Weaver. “So, yesterday we tweaked the formation, we tweaked the lineup, worked on different possibilities to play in through the midfield and I think it showed today. We were really able to play the style we want to play.”
While the Mounties dominated the game overall, outshooting Livingston 11-4, Weaver said there were still things to work on, and the team did give Livingston too many chances as the clock wound down.
“The second half we got a little sloppy,” Weaver said. “We came out, we put them away, I thought, but then we need to stay composed, and I think we got caught out of position a couple times and we got stretched. Today we got by with that but another day, we might not.”
Given the success the Mounties had last season, that ‘other day’ could come at any time as Montclair can be sure every team will be trying to upset them. That means the Mounties need all hands on deck, focused and ready to be called upon at any time.
So when Weaver starts putting his bench depth in, he doesn’t expect sloppy play, no matter how many goals the team is leading by.
For the most part, the roster has responded, both during the Livingston win and the loss to Seton Hall Prep.
“Even though we lost there were some positives to bring from it,” said Weaver. “And some of those positives were guys who haven’t gotten a lot of varsity minutes yet, still played well against Seton Hall.”
As they get more experience, Weaver feels those players will continue to contribute in bigger and bigger ways. The win over Livingston? That was just the beginning.
“I think today we really put it together.”
Montclair visited Bloomfield yesterday, Sept. 11, after press time. The Mounties return home to Fortunato Field this Saturday, Sept. 14, for a 2 p.m. kickoff against Glen Ridge.