The Montclair Kimberley boys soccer team knows the past season could have been better.
Cougars head coach Robert Leather pointed out the achievements, but there were also the near misses.
“I would say we missed on some goals, but also hit on some goals,” said Leather, whose team finished with a 12-7-2 overall record.
In terms of the accomplishments Montclair Kimberley defeated West Orange twice and tied neighborhood rival Montclair. “Those were two huge results and goals of ours,” said Leather.
In addition, the Cougars reached the Essex County Tournament semifinals for only the second time in the last dozen years. “Another unwritten goal is to simply be competitive in every game,” added Leather.
The toughest pill to swallow was the last game, the 4-1 loss at Gill St. Bernard’s in the Non-Public North B state championship match on Nov. 7.
“However, we also had a big goal of beating Gill and claiming a sectional final,” said Leather. “We came up short on their field again and that still hurts a little.”
Montclair Kimberley had three players on the All-Super Essex Conference Liberty Division first team in juniors, Joey Nigro and Alex Provost to go along with sophomore Nick Carrascosa. On the All SEC Liberty second team were juniors Henry Gottfried and Mikey Rallatos. Sophomores Jan Hejna and Braeden Keegan were part of the All SEC Liberty honorable mention list.
With the graduation of the 2022 top scorer Omar Martinez, sophomore Nick Carrascosa fit the bill with a breakout 14 goals this past fall to lead the team to go along with nine assists.
“Nick had his own highlight reel this year,” said Leather about his sophomore striker. “His dribbling and finishing ability made him an elusive attacking player. He had multiple game winners.”
One of the most consistent scorers the last couple of years has been Nigro who chipped in five goals and eight assists this past fall.
“Joey is the heartbeat of the team,” said the MKA head coach. “He gets man marked and targeted by other teams as they know he is our playmaker. Joey played at a high level and was the catalyst for many of our best attacking moments.”
In the nets Provost was the lead of a great duo with Hejna. “Alex had a phenomenal season. He played at a tremendously high level. His leadership, confidence and composure in goal allowed the whole team to feel settled.”
One of Provost’s best performances came in the 2-0 loss to Montclair in the ECT semifinal. “His performance against Montclair in the county semifinal was the best I have seen in an MKA player in my time here,” added Leather about Provost who averaged six saves per match.
One of the top players in front of Provost and Hejna in goals was Gottfried.
“Henry led our backline all season,” said the Montclair Kimberley head coach. “He was a commanding presence for us. When I think of the West Orange and Montclair games, I remember Henry playing at a very high level, and being pivotal in our defensive efforts in those games.”
One of the leaders in assists was Rallatos who did a little of everything and missed some time with an injury this fall.
“Mikey is a workhorse,” added Leather. “He does all the work others don’t want to do. It became apparent when Mikey was hurt that we weren’t the same team. Mikey is one of those players that glues the team together.”
Montclair Kimberley will lose the likes of seniors, Luis Crespo, Dylan Fishman, Boris Floria, Sebi Gonzalez, Nate Turvey and Manny Udofia to graduation but the Cougars have plenty of quality players back for another run in 2024.
Montclair Kimberley 2023 boys soccer honors
All Super Essex Conference
Joey Nigro, junior
Nick Carrascosa, sophomore
Alex Provost, junior
Mikey Rallatos, junior
Henry Gottfried, junior
Jan Hejna, sophomore
Braeden Keegan, sophomore