by Andrew Garda
The Super Essex Conference has announced its list of All-SEC players, and it will come as a shock to nobody that soccer ruled the roost this year in Montclair.
Of the 73 athletes at Montclair High School and Montclair Kimberley Academy this fall, 30 were from the four soccer programs the4 two schools have, with 13 First Team awards between them.
That’s an impressive achievement, but one which the teams deserved as both MHS teams won their state tournaments, the MKA girls made an appearance in the final of their bracket, and the MKA boys played exceptional ball, including tying powerhouse Seton Hall Prep once and nearly berating them again in the NJSIAA tournament before losing in double overtime.
There’s a ton of talent in Montclair soccer and if the rest of the state didn’t know, they should now.
MHS Girls Soccer – SEC American
The Mounties landed four players on the All-SEC First Team for girls soccer, led by NJ.com Player of the Year Claire Manning. Her 20 goals led the team by far, and she added seven assists to the tally as well. WIthout a doubt, Manning’s impact was massive.
It’s important not to overlook fellow First-Teamer Sydney Masur, though.
Masur may not have had the year Manning statistically, though her eight assists says a lot about her selfless style of play, but spend five minutes at a practice or a game and you’ll know how vital she was to the Mountie effort.
Masur was the vocal leader of the team, constantly encouraging and directing her team in a voice you could hear from across the Aubrey Lewis Sports Complex. No matter the score, no matter the game situation, Masur was pushing her team, and when something went wrong, firming them up and getting them back on track.
Masur has been a tremendous asset for this team during her tenure with the program, and her smooth style of play and ability to quickly attack, made her a game-changing asset no matter what the statistics say.
Baldwin Gittens has been a rock on the backline, a constant, physical presence which helped led the unit to allowing just five goals this season. and her steady presence in the back made fellow First-Teamer Molly Brumbach’s job in goal easier.
For her part, Brumbach never took it easy, and while the defense didn’t let many shots go through, saving 64 of 69 shots during the year for a 92.7 save percentage.
Second Team: Kiera Hessler, Sonia Neighbors, Stella Tapia
Honorable Mention: Shelby Duffy, Emily Crane
MHS Boys Soccer – SEC American
Like the MHS girls, the boys had a great season culminating in a state championship and finished with three players – Felipe Gutierez, Luca Campbell and Soren Tolis – on the First Team All-SEC list.
Every year Toure Weaver’s team features an excellent midfielder and Gutierez was the guy this season. He mastered the middle of the field, smoothly moving from defense to offense and distributing the ball to open players and directing traffic and game flow.
Goals don’t happen without assists, and Campbell was a guy who piled them up by the bucketful. He always seemed to have a knack to find the open man, and led the team with ten assists.
Tollis was a reliable presence on the field, someone who Weaver could always count on to step up with a big play during a close game.
It should be noted that 14 different players scored for the Mounties this season, which speaks to the selflessness of the team, something which made them exceptionally dangerous because there was no one person to stop.
Second Team: Noah Dinel, Ben Ceccio, Aidan McGrath
Honorable Mention: Patrick O’Toole, Julian Shorter
MKA Girls Soccer – SEC Liberty
The Cougars did really well this season, and sophomore Bella Douglas was a huge part of that. The First Team member led the team with a staggering 26 goals, accounting for almost half of MKA’s 52 goals. Even though Chloe Skipper’s stats don’t fill out the box score sheet like Douglas’ did, Skipper was a force both in controlling the field and encouraging her teammates as well as moving the ball. Finally, senior Julia Conforti was an integral piece of a senior leadership which had to work with a very young team – only six players out of 24 were seniors, while 15 were sophomores or freshman.
Second Team: Sarah Hobbs, Sofia Vinasco
Honorable Mention: Abigail Clothier, Stella Marshall
MKA Boys Soccer – SEC American
Seniors Zach Wheeler and Will Horn led an incredibly talented team for MKA this year. Despite battling an injury, Wheeler led the team with eight goals adding 18 assists. Seven of those passes went to Horn, who also had three assists. Sean Cadigan is a junior who will be one of the critical pieces when head coach Rob Leather sets about rebooting the team heading into the 2021 season.
Second Team Rollins Heath (GK)
Honorable Mention: Omar Martinez , Jay Druckenmiller
MHS Cross Country – SEC American
First Team – Boys:
Senior Oscar Counsell made like The Flash this season, repeatedly finishing high up in races, culminating in a first-place finish in the SEC American Championship, beating the second-place runner from Millburn by more than two seconds. He also finished in fifth at the NJSIAA Sectionals for North 1. Charles Ehlis will remain at MHS one more year and build on an excellent season which saw him finish in eighth at the SEC Championships and ninth at sectionals.
Second Team – Boys: Charles Hymowitz, Lucas Dia, Kona Michaud
Honorable Mention — Boys: Oliversage Heuschkel, Joseph Gawler
First Team – Girls:
Violet Ross, Meghan O’Brien and Lily Johnston powered the Mounties girls squad to a win in the SEC-American Championship, with all three landing in the top ten. Ross finished in second, just over seven seconds ahead of the third-place finisher, while O’Brien and Johnston finished close together, landing in ninth and tenth. All three capped off a strong year with top twenty finishes in the NJSIAA Sectionals for North 1 as well.
Second Team – Girls: Maya Kim, Krisantha Spencer, Ella McAdams, Madeline Duncan
Honorable Mention — Girls: Annabelle Svenson, Sophia Draxler
MKA cross-country — SEC Liberty
First Team — Boys: The MKA boys had a ton of runners finish with All-SEC honors this year, with Aidan Szilagyi capping the year with a second-place finish in the SEC Liberty Championship. Nathaniel Zuckerberg wasn’t far behind with a fifth-place finish, while Freddy Bishop and Constantinos Krenteras rounded out the top 10 finishers, ending up eighth and ninth. Nick Snyder finished just outside the top 10, at eleventh. This strong group of runners led MKA to an SEC Liberty championship.
Second Team — Boys: Oliver Chang, Stephen Hatfield.
MHS – SFC Liberty White
Several last-minute cancellations due to opponents having COVID-19 positive tests and some key injuries made this a tougher than usual season for Montclair, but they fought hard every game. Quarterback Michael Robinson had to make up some ground yards due to an injury to fellow senior Jordan Diggs and totaled 658 and eight touchdowns on the season. He had some help in the backfield from Jordan Williams, who in addition to work in the backfield, landed on the First Team for defense at linebacker. Robinson was kept safe by the fantastic work by First Team offensive lineman Abdul Hamilton as well.
Second Team – Defense: Jahiem Lowe
MHS – Essex/Union Red
Competing in a division which contains perennial powerhouses West Essex and Oak Knoll isn’t easy, but coach Mary Pat Mercuro has a deep team. First Team junior Phoebe Campbell was a force all season, finishing with nine goals, good enough for second on the team. While she was scoring, Julia Magaldi was feeding her, and Magaldi’s eight assists always came at just the right moment.
Second Team: Natalie Snyder, Elizabeth Haefeli, Lulu Rubin
Honorable Mention: Isabel Ginns, Charlotte McClenahan
MKA – Essex/Union White
It was a tough season for MKA this year, in part because they lost First Teamer Lindsey Yu to an injury. Despite that, Yu’s five goals in just seven games, including a hat trick against Verona, caught the attention of other coaches, who gave the senior a deserved send-off after a great high school career.
Second Team: Lara Pramanik, Natalie Yu
Honorable Mention: Phoebe Williams, Natalia Espinosa-Dice
MHS – SEC American
Madeline Schanen had a very good year, with wins against Glen Ridge, Verona and Columbia in the quarterfinal round of the NJSIAA Northeast A Group 4 tournament. As first singles, Schanen set the tone for the Mounties and she faced some of the toughest players in the county to do it.
Second Team: Chloe Jordan
Honorable Mention: Lily McDonald, Eve Friend
MKA – SEC American
The Cougars lost just one match all season, to Holy Angels in the finals of the NJSIAA Northeast E Non Public tournament, and First Teamer Hanna Ganchi was a big reason why. Ganchi often dominated her opponents but was great in tight matches as well. The same could be said of second single Milagros Carbajal Diaz who only lost one match this past season. Third single Katie Chung also went undefeated winning nine matches and dropping just one set all season.
Second Team: Amara Sood Bhati, Hannah Lewis
Honorable Mention: Chiara Frongillo, Lulu Halbert