by Andrew Garda

After a few hiccups early in the season, the Montclair High boys soccer team is back on course. Winners of six of their last seven games, the Mounties are the No. 3 seed and host Newark Academy in the opening round of the Essex County Tournament today, Thursday, Oct. 10.

A big reason for the turnaround has been the leadership and play of senior captain Evan O’Brien.

“He’s a beast,” said Mounties head coach Toure Weaver. “He’s just a straight up beast. He owns the middle of the park. I’m just really proud of him, he’s just had an awesome year.”

Weaver may be proud of O’Brien, but the midfielder is proud of how far his teammates have come this season.

“I think the beginning of the season, it took us a while to find who we really are, but I think the past two weeks I think we’ve really found it,” he said. “Everyone has stepped up,  I think the focus level has definitely gotten better, we’ve definitely found our stride and it’s perfect timing coming into both the tournaments.”

O’Brien follows three brothers who also came through the program, something that he is proud of, but also pushes him to improve.

“I think my brothers had big shoes for me to step into,” he said. “But we’re a very competitive family, and I want to do better than they did. So, when I’m older I can talk crap to them.”

Family competition aside, O’Brien doesn’t want to win just for bragging rights.

“I want the state championship and the county title this year,” he said. “ I’ll do whatever I can to get that. Last year, last O’Brien in the program, I want to leave my mark.”

O’Brien took a few minutes after the team’s win over West Orange to answer some questions for this week’s Athlete Spotlight:


Have you decided on a school yet? Right now, I’m committed to Wesleyan but I still have to apply for early decision and get in, so it’s not official-official.

Why Wesleyan? I liked the coach. I visited campus and some of my best friends from last year are there. I really liked it.

Do you know what you want to study? No, that’s another reason why I like [Wesleyan]. It’s open curriculum, so I don’t have to go in there ready to choose. I can figure it out when I get there. That was a big reason[I committed] too.

What will you miss most about Montclair? Soccer. It’ll be sad. Because it’s – they’re like my brothers. I’ve been in this thing three years, and in that three years we’ve done so well, and I’vebecome so attached to the program. The brotherhood you create here is, you can’t recreate it anywhere.

What has been your best moment as a Mountie so far? Definitely, winning the county championship  [last year] was a great moment. That was by far the best moment, but I want the state championship.