Montclair girls soccer turns back Montclair Kimberley in county tournament quarterfinals
The Montclair High School girls soccer team's goal going into the Essex County Tournament quarterfinals game against rival Montclair Kimberley was to win and get to the next match.
And, led by senior Sonia Neighbors’ two scores, the top-seeded Mounties did just that in a thorough 6-1 win over the ninth-seeded Cougars at Fortunato Field on Friday, Oct. 14.
A couple weeks earlier, in a regular season matchup, MKA stuck with Montclair for most of the contest, until the Mounties pulled away late for a 3-1 win on Oct. 3 at MKA.
In that contest, Montclair didn't strike until late in the first half.
This time the story was different.
Neighbors scored early, eight minutes in, to give the Mounties a 1-0 lead.
And it wasn't long before Montclair hit the back of the net again, this time by sophomore Morganne Zinn, 13 minutes into the contest and handing the Mounties a 2-0 lead.
They would never look back. The Mounties raised their record to 13-0-1, while the Cougars dropped to 4-8-1.
Despite Montclair’s slow start in its previous game against the Cougars, Neighbors said that getting out fast in the county game was not on the team’s mind.
"We didn't talk specifically about getting the scoring early," she said. "For any county game the goal is to get to the next round."
Montclair takes on 12th-seeded Cedar Grove at Livingston High School on Tuesday, Oct. 18, at 7 p.m., after Montclair Local’s print deadline.
Five different Mounties scored against the Cougars in the ECT match. In addition to Neighbors and Zinn, Montclair received a goal each from sophomores Ang McGloughlin and Sonia Haynes and junior Lucy Parker. Freshman Carla Osborne had a pair of assists.
Lindsay Fouche scored the lone goal for Montclair Kimberley with a penalty kick with nine minutes left to spoil the shutout.
Zinn pointed out the Mounties’ ultimate objective: "Our goal is to go undefeated and stay focused."
The Mounties are self-assured that they can win even if they are down late in a match, as they were at Millburn when they were behind 2-1. But they would come back to score two late goals by Neighbors to take a 3-2 victory and preserve the undefeated season. The two scores secured a hat trick for the senior. "It doesn't matter how far we are behind, we're confident we can win," she said.
Coming into the quarterfinals, Montclair Kimberley was severely shorthanded, being without senior midfielder Bella Douglass, who was watching the game on crutches on the sideline. Douglass had been the leading MKA goal scorer but is out for the season.
"It is a big loss for us, and she is very hard to replace," MKA coach Jordan Raper said.
The Cougars coach added that everybody else will have to pick up the pieces. "Every player needs to step up to replace a loss like Bella," Raper said.
While its ECT title hopes were dashed at Montclair, MKA is still in the running for the Prep B Tournament title. The Cougars, the sixth seed in that tournament, will travel to second-seeded Newark Academy on Thursday, Oct. 20, in the semifinals. The Cougars lost 1-0 at Newark Academy in their season opener.
"They are focused on this," Raper said. "It is the biggest game of our season so far."
For Montclair the ECT semifinals were bitter last season. The Mounties lost to Livingston on penalty kicks.