by Andrew Garda
The Montclair High School girls soccer team keeps chugging along, improving their record to 8-0 with wins last week over Newark Academy and Mount St. Dominic.
The Mounties first defeated the Minutemen, on Wednesday, Oct. 28, in a tight game, 3-2. It was the first time all season Montclair allowed two goals in a game.
Then, on Halloween, MHS got a bit of a scare as The Mount held them scoreless in the first half, but a timely goal by Emily Crane near the beginning of the second half put the team up 1-0, and Claire Manning’s goal off a pass by Sonia Neighbors locked up the 2-0 victory.
Head coach Ashley Hammond said he was impressed with his team’s fortitude against a tough MSD team on a very chilly day.
“[They] were very disciplined,” he said on Monday. “On a cold, wintery morning the MSD keeper had warm hands, as we tested them 19 times before scoring.”
Eventually, though, Montclair’s dynamic offense broke through.
“Great solo effort from Em Crane, and a banger from Claire Manning,” Hammond said of the goals. “Wonderful moments of brilliance in a very methodical, well-put-together 80 minutes by the ladies.”
When it comes to the dedication of his team, Hammond always says it starts at the top.
“You know, it’s the captains,” he said after the Newark Academy win. “I love their attitude before the game.”
In that game Montclair saw two great headers into the net, by Katie Giordano and Syd Masur, off beautiful crosses by Claire Manning (to Giordano) and Sonia Neighbors (to Masur).
Neighbors put in the final goal with a blistering shot off the goal post and past the Newark Academy goalie to give them the 3-2 win.
That victory was especially important to the team, as it was the game they had chosen to honor their seniors. In an unusual season, carving out a time — and a win — for the seniors who have dedicated four years to the program was critical.
Even for seniors like Masur, who wanted to make sure that on this day especially every upperclassman touched the field.
“Syd was all about, ‘Let’s just get to the point where everyone can play tonight,’ and that kind of attitude, [which] she always exudes, is just refreshing,” Hammond said.
Things got a little closer against Newark Academy than the Mounties had hoped, though. They expected a tough, disrupting defense, but the Minutemen also managed to convert on two very nice goals. And with Mount St. Dominic stifling them again on Saturday, Montclair began to see how teams are approaching them now.
“Scott [Rowling’s] a fabulous coach at Newark Academy. Coach [Angelo DelVecchio] over at [Mount St. Dominic] is a really good guy and a good coach,” Hammond said.
The reason Montclair has been successful even in close games, he said, is they never allow themselves to get rattled.
“You know, we talk about patience, and again, I didn’t see any panic,” he said last week. “We were good even at [a score of] 2-1, you know? We felt like we could get another one. And even at 3-2, we just took it into the corner and killed the game.”
With the lead just one goal, MHS took the ball into the corner of the field in Newark Academy’s end, shielding it with their bodies. Newark Academy had very few choices while MHS did that. They could choose to knock the ball out of bounds for a throw-in or a kick, they could try to poke at the ball and hope they could steal it, or they could just let Montclair sit in the corner.
They tried the first two but couldn’t get the ball away from the Mounties. Hammond said that was a decision the girls made, not the coaches.
“Three minutes we wasted in the corner, which was just — they are very brilliant young women,” Hammond said.
“I don’t know any other way to say it, just brilliant young women who know the game plan. Whether it’s scruffy, whether it’s taken into the corner, whether it’s moments of brilliance. They find a way.”
The team was faced with another tough game where they had to find a way as they faced Columbia on Tuesday, Nov. 3, results coming after press time. They then have a home game against Livingston on Friday, Nov. 6, at 4 p.m.
MHS boys: The Mountie boys saw their matchup against Seton Hall Prep on Friday delayed, as the prep school had to cancel all athletic matches due to several positive COVID-19 tests at the school last week.
Head coach Toure Weaver and Athletic Director Patrick Scarpello were able to add a game on the road against North Brunswick on Saturday, Oct. 31, which Montclair won, 4-1, raising their record to 7-0-1 (6-0-1 SEC).
MHS was led by Julian Shorter with a pair of goals; James Modiano and Charlie Moore also scored, and there were assists by Felipe Gutierrez, Patrick O’Toole, Soren Tollis and Jason Dibble. Tyler Krongard had four saves in net.
The team faced Verona on Wednesday, Nov. 4, with results coming after press time, and will be on the road against Glen Ridge Saturday, Nov. 7, at 4 p.m.