It was a season of heartbreaks last season for the Montclair girls soccer team.
The Mounties biggest angst in 2022 came in the Essex County Tournament semifinals as the favored Montclair squad was upset by Glen Ridge, 2-1.
And then Montclair lost another one goal game, this time at West Orange, 1-0, in the North 1 Group 4 state semifinals.
What made it even harder: It was the only two losses of the season as the Mounties finished with a 15-2-1 record last season.
Montclair did bring home the Super Essex Conference American Division title with the only blemish coming with a tie at home to West Orange, 3-3.
And on Thursday night, it was those two rivals, Mounties and the Mountaineers, who were facing each other in the season opener in West Orange.
But the game was called after a 30-minute lightning delay with nine minutes remaining in the first half in a scoreless game. The match will be made up at a later date to be determined.
For this fall Montclair head coach Ashley Hammond will have to replace top players including graduating seniors, Sonia Neighbors and Hazel Aiello who were both All SEC American first team as well as Rece Anton who was All American second team. Also, part of the 2022 graduation group was Sylvie Wurmser and Rei Chappell who were on the All-American honorable mention list.
Hammond points to what the targets are this season with the SEC American Division on tap right away.
“As always we start the season with a view to winning some silverware,” said Hammond before the first game against West Orange. “We open again with a top divisional rival in West Orange. We know West Orange will be well organized and hard to beat so hopefully we can get something out of the game. The usual suspects — Livingston and Glen Ridge and Mount St. Dominic — will be crucial games but at first glance we have no easy games this year.”
The top players back are junior Morgane Zinn and senior Lucy Parker who were part of the All SEC American first and second team respectively.
Zinn will be the player that will be targeted to stop after she scored 15 goals last season and could reach or surpass Neighbors’ 22 goals in 2022.
“Morgane has worked very hard at all aspects of her game,” said Hammond who added that Zinn can be utilized at several positions on the pitch. “In club ball she plays in a different position, but she is so selfless and plays wherever we need her. If we ask her to play further forward, hopefully, she will get close to Sonia’s numbers.”
While Zinn should be the leader upfront, one of the leaders in the back is Parker, a co-captain.
“Lucy is a poised player and has proven to be an excellent leader of women,” said Hammond. “She is very skilled. Lucy is a wonderful tackler and reads the game well. We are excited to have Lucy as a captain and the leader of our defense.”
Also, on defense the Mounties have a pair of sophomores in Carla Osborne and Ella Overton. Parker’s play on defense will be needed even more with the graduation of the Mounties keeper Teah Glorie.
But Hammond believes Glorie had been a good confidant for the new keeper sophomore Sophie Porter. “Sophie was very fortunate to have a mentor like Teah last year so we are excited to have another in a long line of good Montclair keepers between the sticks,” added Hammond.
One of the other co-captains this season is senior Evie Campbell who had five goals and eight assists last season and could pick up some of the scoring slack with the graduation of Neighbors. “On the field Evie has been excellent, her speed and determination are what makes her a great player and a wonderful example for our younger players,” said the Montclair head coach.
Along with Campbell, another player who is expected to see more shots hit the back of the net is junior Angie McGlaughlin who had four goals in 2022. “Ang McGlaughlin loves to get forward so we hope that she will bag a few,” Hammond added. “We have been very pleased so far with all of our forward players so we would be delighted if we spread the joy.”
Three new varsity starters are expected to make a big impact this season in senior Maddie Goldstein, junior Charlotte Dia, junior Zoe Moon and junior Sonia Haynes. In addition, junior Cara Flynn returns to the field after missing her sophomore season because of an ACL injury.
In the early going Montclair’s biggest challenges will come Sept. 11 at DePaul, who is the favorite to win the Passaic County title, and hosting Glen Ridge, the team that ousted them in last year’s Essex County semifinals, on Sept. 19. The battle with rival Montclair Kimberley is Oct. 4.
Montclair Girls Soccer Schedule
(Matches at 4 p.m. unless noted)
Sept. 11 at DePaul, 7 p.m.
Sept. 13 at Newark Academy
Sept. 15 West Essex
Sept. 19 Glen Ridge
Sept. 21 at Livingston
Sept. 23 at Bloomfield, 10 a.m.
Sept. 27 Verona
Sept. 29 at Millburn
Oct. 2 at Cedar Grove
Oct. 4 Montclair Kimberley
Oct. 6 Nutley
Oct. 9 Morris Knolls