by Andrew Garda
The top-seeded Montclair Mounties found ways to score early and often in their NJSIAA North East E, Quarterfinal win over No. 8 seeded Union City on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020.
The team will now face No. 4 seeded Ridgewood on Friday, at Fortunato Field, with kickoff at 2pm. Those who are not family members will be able to watch a stream of the game here.
Outside of a goal by Claire Manning, though, it wasn’t the usual suspects which propelled the Mounties to an easy 6-0 victory.
Goals by Stella Tapia, Sylvie Wurmser, Zoe Torpey, Ella Catania and even freshman Evie Campbell all made UC pay for focusing on the likes of Manning, Sydney Masur and Sonia Neighbors.
Head coach Ashley Hammond loved seeing different players step up like he knew they could.
“Listen, Sylvie’s a terrific little player, she’s played well all season,” he said. “Nice to see her score. Zoe Torpey scored. And in a second half, Ella. It was very nice to see them score. It was excellent, it was really well done.”
Depth has always been a strength of the MHS soccer programs, and with the girls it makes them especially hard to defend. Hammond expected the Union City team to play a slogging, grinding defense, which they did, but the team just didn’t have the horses to keep up with the more athletic, and frankly more talented Mountie team.
Although to be fair, when you plan on shutting a Masur or Manning down and then Tapia starts things off with a long-distant shot for a goal, there’s only so much you can do.
The deep shots were a real problem for UC goalie Nicole Castro. Aside from Tapia’s goal, Manning and Campbell both put the ball in from distance as well.
Not that the short game was any more successful for Union City. Wurmser scored off a sloppy rebound from the keeper, and Torpey’s goal came against a backup, as Castro was hurt during a collision with her own defender and missed part of the first half.
On that play, Torpey and Masur was in the goalie box, and the backup hesitated, not knowing where to go. Torpey kept the ball and simply went around her for a score.
Now the team will prepare for Ridgewood, who beat No. 5 seeded Kearny by a shocking 6-1 margin. Hammond said the team knows just how good a team the Maroons are.
“They were very good. We played them in preseason, so we know all about them,” Hammond said. “We knew Kearny was good, so I’m pretty shocked by that [6-1] result, but we know Ridgewood is excellent.”
Montclair features and excellent defense and goaltender, but neither was tested on Wednesday, as Molly Brumbach had all of one save. However, both were tested in last Saturday’s 0-0 tie against fellow top ten team Scotch Plains-Fanwood which was, in part, the point of scheduling that game.
Hammond always knew the NJSIAA could feature some exceedingly tough offenses, but he also knew given how Montclair has played in 2020, that the first game could be a blowout, against a team without a potent offense.
So playing the Raiders last week gave his defense some extra work.
Along with a dominating effort by the frontline starters, the Mounties got to see a little bit of the future in the second half of their win Wednesday. When the second half commenced, Hammond had an entirely different group of players on the field from forwards to goaltenders.
Hammond likes to throw in lineups he doesn’t normally get to play and wanted to give the younger players a chance to get a feel for tournament play.
The backups were more than able to not only keep pace with UC’s starters, but blow past them and continue to dominate the ball, keeping the play mostly in the UC end for the second half and scoring twice.
Hammond isn’t expecting the luxury of blooding new players against Ridgewood.
“They’ve got a great little player called Ashley Blacka, who’s a very, very good striker,” Hammond said. “I’ve known her for a long time in a club role. So, no illusions about Friday. We’re going to have to be at it.”