The 2019 Essex County Champion Montclair Mounties girls soccer team.

by Andrew Garda

The 2019 fall high school sports season is in the books, and it was a very successful one for the teams representing Montclair High School, Montclair Kimberley Academy and Immaculate Conception.

Today we look back at those teams and their many accomplishments:

Baldwin Gittens celebrates a goal during the Mounties’ NJSIAA North 1, Group IV title win. MHS added titles for the American Division, Essex County Championship, and the NJSIAA North 1, Group IV championship while compiling a 20-1-2 record.


MHS girls (20-1-2 overall, 6-0-1 SEC-American): It was a record-breaking season for the ladies as they met their goal of adding a lot of hardware to the trophy case. Titles for the American Division, the Essex County Championship, and the NJSIAA North 1, Group IV championship were all added to the program’s history, which propelled them to a ranking as the No. 4 team in New Jersey. The Mounties played 1,820 minutes overall, but trailed for only 58 total of that, eight of it coming against Scotch Plains-Fanwood in the NJSIAA Group semifinal, with 40 coming against Livingston in their second meeting and 10 against Mount St. Dominic. 

Only Verona and Scotch Plains scored more than one goal on Montclair; both scored twice, and only Scotch Plains scored multiple goals in a close game and over the course of the season, the Mounties outscored the opposition by 53 goals (68 for, 15 against) winning 14 straight games, with 9 shutouts, before tying Livingston in back to back games including the ECT final.

MHS boys (14-4-1 overall, 5-2-0 SEC-American): After a tremendously successful 2018, the pressure was on for the Mountie boys, and they rose to the occasion. While they fell short in the Essex County finals to Seton Hall Prep and lost to Ridgewood in the NJSIAA North 1, Group IV semifinals, they finished ranked as the No. 11 team in the state. Mateo Neighbors led the team in goals with 10, including three game winners, while Evan O’Brien and Gardner Temkin tied for the most assists with 4 apiece. Since head coach Toure Weaver began keeping statistics, this was the lowest goals against average for a season with 0.47 a game. The team never allowed more than two goals in a game, which only happened once this year. The team had 12 shutouts, with just 13 goals against, while scoring 46 goals themselves.

Shea Hammond, pictured, was a huge part of the Cougars’ 2019 success, which included nearly upending eventual Essex County Champion Seton Hall Prep in the semifinals, and appearances in both the Prep B and NJSIAA North Jersey, Non-Public B finals.

MKA boys (16-6-1 overall, 3-3-1 SEC-American): It’s likely the Cougars will look at 2019 as one which could have been more, but the No. 36 team in the state has nothing to hang its head about. The squad nearly beat eventual ECT champion Seton Hall Prep in the semifinals, and reached the finals in both the Prep B and NJSIAA North Jersey, Non-Public B final, where they fell to Gill St. Bernard’s in both games.

MKA girls (8-9-1, 2-5-0 SEC-American): The first season under new head coach Jordan Raper was a rollercoaster, but don’t let the 8-9-1 record fool you – come tournament time, the girls put on a show, making it to the semifinal round for the Prep B tournament, and the finals of the NJSIAA North Jersey, Non-Public B tournament, where they forced Saddle River Day to penalty kicks before losing.  

Montclair High senior tight end Shawn Collins hauls in the first of two touchdown catches during the Mounties’ thrilling 24-21 win over Irvington. The Mounties finished the season 5-5 overall and made the playoffs for the 10th time in John Fiore’s career.


MHS (5-5 overall, 4-2 SFC-Liberty Blue): Montclair made the playoffs for the 10th time during head coach John Fiore’s 10-year tenure, and did so with one of the youngest and least experienced rosters they’ve had. Their 15-14 loss to East Orange in the first round of the NJSIAA playoffs was the earliest exit in a long time, but the emergence of Michael Robinson, and Jordan Diggs point to a hopeful 2020. Diggs posted Montclair’s 12th 1,000-yard rushing season in Fiore’s 10 years here, with his 1,237 yards ranking ninth in that span. 

MHS finished .500 or better for the 24th time in the past 27 years, dating back to Ed Lebida’s first season in 1993. The Mounties’ season point total of 290 is the lowest in Fiore’s 10 seasons at MHS, however, it still ranks as the 20th-highest point total in Montclair’s 125 years of football, and ranks 21st in program history in points per game. Speaking of that 125 years, Montclair’s updated all-time win total stands at 757, best in New Jersey and more than 50 wins ahead of second-place Phillipsburg.

ICHS (6-3 overall, 2-2 SFC-United Blue): The Lions had a very promising first season to begin returning head coach John Finnegan’s second stint at the school, winning their first four games and making it to the NJSIAA Non-Public Group II playoffs for the second year in a row, highlighted by a win over perennial small-parochial power Hudson Catholic. On the way they outscored their opponents 253 to 175. 

MKA (3-7, 0-4 MIFL): The Cougars struggled this season, but still managed to earn a pair of tight victories over Fieldston School of New York, the first 18-13 on Sept. 21 and the second a 27-24 win on Oct. 26.

MHS’ Maggie Garland (8) celebrates after her goal during the Mounties’ 4-0 Essex County win over Glen Ridge on Saturday, Oct. 12.

Field Hockey

MHS (15-6-1, 2-2-1 Essex-Union Red): With a youth-heavy team, the Mounties didn’t know what to expect of their 2019 season, but their achievements will tell you they acquitted themselves well. Montclair scored big early wins over Kent Place and Randolph, and posted a perfect 11-0-0 record at Watchung Field. The reached the championship games of both the Essex County Tournament and the NJSIAA North 1, Group IV playoffs, battling hard in defeats against two of the top teams in the state in West Essex and Ridge.

MKA (7-12-1, 0-4-1 Essex-Union Red): It took awhile for the Cougars to get going in 2019, but they won six of their final 11 games, and advanced to the semifinals of the Prep B tournament and the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA North Jersey, Non-Public playoffs before running into Morristown-Beard and Kent Place. A young team, MKA is poised to bounce back with a good 2020.

Cross Country

MHS girls: The Mountie girls had a fantastic season, defending their Essex County title, beating second place Columbia High School by nearly 60 points.  In the North 1 Sectionals, the Mounties finished in third, just behind Clifton High School, and made the Group Championships. They did not advance to the Meet of Champions, but still performed well. A massive five Mounties made First team All-Conference as well: Evelyn Battleson-Gunkel, Violet Ross, Krisantha Spencer, Lola Scarpone and Lily Johnston. Ella McAdams was named to the second team.

MHS boys: The Montclair boys landed in second place in the Essex County Championships, before taking fourth place in the North 1 NJSIAA Sectionals, earning them a spot in the Group Championships. While they didn’t advance to the Meet of Champions, they performed very well at Groups, as they had all season. Oscar Counsell and Lucas Dia were both named to the second team All Conference 

MKA girls: The MKA Cougars finished fourth in the Essex County Championships, and then finished second in the NJSIAA Division B Prep State Championships. That earned them a spot in the NJSIAA Group Championships, where they placed fourth. Anna Bradley was named to the All Conference first team, with Emma Burd landing on the second team. 

MKA boys: The Cougar boys finished eighth in the Essex County Championships and sixth in the NJSIAA Division B Prep State Championships, before finishing eighth in the NJSIAA Group Championships. Charlie Koeing was named to the All Conference first team. 

MKA senior Emily Talkow was a key piece for the Cougars’ success in 2019, and along with Hanna Ganchi, was named to the All-Conference first team.

Girls Tennis

MHS (8-10 overall, 4-1 SEC-Liberty): The first season under Guy Rabner saw marked improvement for the Mounties, who won a share of the Liberty Division title and reached the quarterfinals in both the county and state tournaments.

MKA (11-8 overall, 1-3 SEC-American): A five-match winning streak and runs to the semifinals of the Essex County and North Jersey, Non-Public B state tournaments highlighted the campaign for Bill Wing’s Cougars. Hanna Ganchi and Emily Talkow were both named to the All Conference first team, with Ainsley Manlowe named to the second team. 

Pink-clad MKA players celebrate a block during their ‘Dig Pink’ win over Montclair High on Friday, Oct 25, 2019. The event was a highlight of the season for both teams, and raised money to fight Breast Cancer.

Girls Volleyball

MHS (7-15 overall, 3-9 SEC-American): The Mounties had a tough season, making it to the Essex County Tournament quarterfinals and sweeping league rival Mount St. Dominic. The Mounties also had a very successful Dig Pink fundraiser, raising money to fight breast cancer.

MKA (10-12 overall, 6-6 SEC-Liberty): The Cougars had a successful first season under head coach Molli Dowd, making it to the quarterfinal round of the Prep tournament, as well as the Round of 16 in the ECT and qualifying for the NJSIAA Non-Public state tournament.