by Andrew Garda
The Montclair High School field hockey team kicked off the 2020 NJSIAA North East A field hockey tournament with a dominant win over Newark Academy on Monday, Nov. 16, defeating NA 2-0.
The No. 3 seeded Mounties spent most of the game in No. 6 seeded Newark Academy, and if they weren’t able to pile on more points, it wasn’t for lack of trying as NA goalie Zoe Fleysher made five other saves during the game.
Mounties head coach Mary Pat Mercuro said they expected a tough game from the Minutemen, and knew the NA defense would put up a good fight.
“[Newark Academy] played well,” Mercuro said after the game. “I was just talking to their coach and she said they really stepped up today. They won, they won the [Blue] division, and they’re very good team, you know, and they needed to be.”
NA brought their “A” game to Watchung Field, and their defense was able to frustrate the Mounties in the first two quarters, keeping Montclair disrupted on offense.
“We had a hard time today just clicking,” Mercuro said. The team was missing some of their pieces on Monday, with two captains out, and the coach felt that caused some of the problems.
“I’m going to chalk [the first half] up to that because I think we can play a lot better than we did today,” she said.
The two teams were deadlocked at the end of the first half, but things changed for the better in the third quarter, when Phoebe Campbell scored with 13 minutes left. It was Campbell’s eighth goal of the year.
Newark Academy battled back and kept the Mounties at bay for the rest of the quarter, and while they didn’t get many chances, MHS goalie Isabel Ginns came up with several saves to make sure the few NA got wouldn’t produce anything.
Then Natalie Snyder capped things off with a goal in the middle of the fourth to make it 2-0 and put the game away.
Now the Mounties face a Millburn team which they battled to a tie in the opening game of the season on Oct. 2.
Mercuro said while a win in the North East A, Semifinal Round is in play, the Mounties have another monkey to get off their back.
“We haven’t beaten them in the three years,” she said. “We tied them [this year] and I thought we outplayed them but, you know, we just didn’t find it. [Tuesday is] going to be an important practice and we’re going to find, find the magic, you know?”
With Millburn the No. 2 seeded team, Montclair will have to beat them on the road and unless No. 4 seeded Ramsey manages to do something nobody else has done this season and upset the top seeded West Essex team, Monday will have been Montclair’s final home game of the season at Watchung.
Mercuro said if that’s the case, the team can be proud of how they played at home this season, where they only lost once to West Essex.
The coach said that was, like many things this year, because of the leadership of her seniors.
“I have seven seniors and they’re really tight, so we have a lot of leadership on the field,” she said. “It’s a good group of kids and I think if we play our game against Millburn, we’ll be okay.”