Montclair boys soccer: Slow start dooms Mounties in playoffs loss to Kearny
If you take out the first 20 minutes of the state playoff game, Montclair's boys soccer team could be living another day.
But the 14th-seeded Mounties struggled at the start at third-seeded Kearny and could not stop the Kards’ offense in that span, giving up three goals in the first-round North 1 Group 4 match in Kearny.
The traditional powerhouse Kards would hold on to win, 3-0, led by Alejandro Alvarado, who scored his 23rd goal of the season. Montclair had a roller-coaster season, finishing with a 7-6-2 mark.
Montclair head coach Toure Weaver said after the game that giving up the three quick goals was due to the team's youth and inexperience. "I think a lot of it was on our maturity," Weaver said.
The best aspect of the defeat for Weaver was that his team did not fold despite being down by the three goals.
"I'm really proud of the guys, they didn't quit,” he said. “A lot of teams would just give up down 3-0. We played to the last whistle."
The coach added that his team should not have been the 14th seed for the state playoffs, they had to win more matches during the regular season.
"That's on us, we didn't take care of business," he said, adding that the Kards did not want to face the battle-tested Mounties. "I'm sure that they didn't want to see us. We should have won a few games during the season."
After the first 20 minutes, Montclair did wake up and settle down while picking up the pace and staying competitive the rest of the way.
One of the team’s biggest chances came late in the first half, when a shot by senior Filippo Gaisie about 10 yards in front of Kearny goalkeeper Alex Cruz was headed in, but a Kearny defender kicked it out at the last second.
If the Gaisie shot went in, it might have changed the complexion of the game, handing the Mounties momentum going into the second half.
But instead, Montclair stayed down by three goals heading into intermission.
In the second half, the team brought the pressure and actually outplayed the Kards but could not capitalize and finish off. "I thought we were even with them," Weaver said. "They're a good team. We made adjustments at halftime."
In the first half Montclair did not create its first corner until the last couple of minutes. But in the second half, the team had its first corner in the first five minutes.
And Gaisie, seniors Daniel Hill and Kyle Brandon and junior Toussaint Colbert kept peppering Kearny's Cruz.
But the Mounties' onslaught could not produce results.