by Andrew Garda

It’s a busy time of year for the Montclair High School boys soccer team, and the high-profile, high-stakes games are going to come fast and furious this week. The unbeaten Mounties (17-0) have had an incredible year thus far, and three championship trophies remain for the taking: the Essex County Tournament, the North 1 Group IV sectional title, and the overall Group IV championship.

Montclair will play Seton Hall Prep for the county crown this Saturday at 3 p.m. at Millburn High School.

That game could be sandwiched between a pair of bruising state tournament games; following Monday’s 2-0 first-round win over Morristown, the top-seeded Mounties host Passaic Tech today, Nov. 1, and would host a semifinal game Monday if they advance.

No New Jersey team has ever won both the state and county titles while going undefeated for an entire season.

Senior Mehdi Elfilali, one of the team captains, said that one of the reasons the group has been successful on the field is their bond off the field.

An example, he cited, is the team’s obsession with the soccer video game FIFA.

“FIFA is a lifestyle,” he said Monday afternoon following the Mounties’ win over Morristown. “We all ball out every night. Every weekend we’re all together at one person’s house playing tournaments, getting together and getting that team bonding going. We’re always with each other, and it creates a great team dynamic.”

It’s a tough task, but one Elfilali feels they are ready for. He took a few minutes from getting ready for this week’s games to answer some questions for this week’s Athlete Spotlight:

Have you decided on colleges yet?

I have started looking at colleges. I have not zoned in on a specific school yet. But, I am eager to start looking at start applying soon, get my early stuff in. So, I hope I can accept an offer before January and know where I’m headed.

What will you study?

I really would love to go into medicine, and I would love to be a surgeon. It just interests me, the human body, biology and all that stuff. I feel like it would be great to be able to help people as well.

What do you do for fun?

I love to hang out with my friends. A lot of the guys on this soccer team I know very well, and we always hang out together. I love going to the gym and working out, it’s a passion of mine. Playing FIFA, and the guitar every once in a while too.

Besides soccer, what are you focusing on this year?

Just being present and being a senior. It’s our last year in this town, [and] with a lot of my friends because I know after we graduate I won’t see necessarily a lot of the people that I’ve been seeing. So, just hanging out a lot and getting to know everybody before we all leave and head in our separate directions.