by Andrew Garda

If you ask Montclair High School soccer forward Jalen Anderson what his favorite moment as a Mountie has been, he doesn’t hesitate.

“Freshman year, against Seton Hall,” he replied after the Mounties’ 1-0 win over Montclair Kimberley Academy on Monday. “Free kick in the 60th minute. Top corner, won the game. Great moment.”

Monday’s game gave him a chance to repeat that moment, as he got to take a penalty kick in the first half against the Cougars,

“The keeper was trying to trick me, when I was up there,” he said. “There was a lot of pressure because there were so many people here. The key is just to stay calm and have confidence and put the ball where the keeper’s not and that’s what I did.”

That goal was the difference in the game, though it wasn’t a last-minute shot and the team had to sweat out another 50 minutes.

Giving his team that lift though, and helping them pull through, felt as good as anything Anderson had felt before.

Anderson, now a senior, has been playing soccer a long time, beginning when he lived in West Orange. After moving to Montclair, he joined the town league and then followed some coaches through several clubs.

As Anderson thinks about what he wants to do in college, he’s just trying to enjoy his last season with guys he’s played with for a long time.

“This is my last year playing with all my friends, I just want to savor the moment.”

With county and state tournaments ahead, as well as a few more regular-season games, Anderson has time to make a few more memories.

He joined us for a short chat after the MKA game so we could find out a bit more about him.

Montclair High School senior Jalem Anderson on the soccer team
Montclair High School senior Jalem Anderson on the soccer team

What was your favorite class while at Montclair High?

AP Environmental Science. I like it a lot. I feel strongly about our environment, how it’s being treated right now, So, I feel like being in environmental science, it educates me so that I can go and make our environment better.

Do you have any hobbies?

Honestly, it’s just homework and soccer. I don’t really have much free time. If I do have free time, I’m hanging out with my friends or playing FIFA.

Do you play FIFA online? Are you good?

Yes. I’m very good.

Do you listen to music? What type?

I listen to music all the time. Hip-hop. I listen to whatever comes out recently ... I start listening to that. So right now it’s A Boogie. It’s all hip-hop though.

Are there any books you really enjoy?

Percy Jackson. I love those books.

If you could have three people to dinner — living, dead or fictional — who would they be?

Ronaldinho [Brazilian soccer player], Pele and Barack Obama.

Who has been the most influential person in your life?

My father, definitely. He’s who introduced me to soccer, and this has literally been my whole entire life. He’s stuck with me throughout the entire ride and I’m really thankful.

Is there a soccer player you model your game after?

There aren’t a lot of players I can model my game after, because of my height. There is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, so I do try to play like he does.