The Montclair High School field hockey team did not make the state finals even though it was a number one seed, but considering how inexperienced the squad was, it achieved a lot.

When head coach Mary Pat Mercuro was asked if the season was a success, she said, "Absolutely. This team went well above expectations. Their athletic ability and desire to win has made them one of the best teams I have ever coached."

Coming into 2022, Mercuro was almost starting from scratch, as 16 seniors graduated from the 2021 squad.

But Montclair finished with the same record, 16-5, as it did in 2021. In the last decade, outside of the COVID season of 2020, the Mounties have won at least 14 games except in one year, 2017, when they had 11 wins.

Mercuro said the best aspect of this Mounties version was the players’ athletic ability.

"They always found a way to get things done and they never quit," the coach said. "What this team lacked in field hockey skill, they made up with athletic ability."

Mercuro said the best victory was a 1-0 win over Northern Highlands on Oct. 28 and the best-played defeat was a 2-1 verdict to Kent Place on Sept. 28.

"Both are state-ranked teams that we outplayed," the longtime coach said. "One a controversial loss and the other a huge win. The 2022 team played to win and believed anything was possible."

Senior goalkeeper Isabel Ginns, who was named to the All Super Essex County American first team, had 135 saves for the season as the Mounties registered 11 shutouts. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
Senior goalkeeper Isabel Ginns, who was named to the All Super Essex County American first team, had 135 saves for the season as the Mounties registered 11 shutouts. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
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While the loss to Kent Place ranked up there in difficult defeats, there is no doubt that Montclair's toughest defeat was in the North Group 4 state quarterfinals. The top-seeded Mounties lost 3-0 to ninth-seeded Westfield. Montclair had defeated Westfield on the same field in Montclair, 5-0, in the season opener back in September.

While the state tournament was a dud, the Mounties reached the Essex County Tournament finals, where they lost to West Essex, 8-0. The Mounties have perpetually been second banana to West Essex, which has consistently won county titles. Montclair has been one of the few teams outside of West Essex to win a county title; its last championship came in 2010.

Despite having a young squad, there were several seniors who led the 2022 team, including Isabela Ginns, Megan Crane and Megan Previdi, all of whom were named to the All Super Essex Conference American Division first team. There were also two seniors on the All SEC American second team, Marin Furer and Lindsay Martin.

Montclair senior Meghan Crane (3, center) is congratulated after scoring against Montclair Kimberley this season. Crane was named to the All Super Essex County American first team this past season after scoring 19 goals to lead the Mounties. Montclair High School field hockey finished with a 16-5 record and made it to the Essex County Tournament final. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
Montclair senior Meghan Crane (3, center) is congratulated after scoring against Montclair Kimberley this season. Crane was named to the All Super Essex County American first team this past season after scoring 19 goals to lead the Mounties. Montclair High School field hockey finished with a 16-5 record and made it to the Essex County Tournament final. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
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Ginns was a rock in goal, making 158 saves, and was part of 11 shutouts this past fall. "She is a worker, a leader and a teacher," Mercuro said. "She is proof that if you put the time into a sport, anything is possible. She is the best goalie ever to come out of Montclair High School."

Crane was the offensive stalwart and led the Mounties in goals with 19. "Scoring came easy to Meg," the coach said. "I think it was because she didn’t care if she scored or not. She just wanted to win.  And if scoring is what the team needed, Meg delivered."

Previdi contributed six goals and eight assists, but scoring was just part of her repertoire. "Meg could play any position on the field," Mercuro said. "She could mark a DI prospect or generate game-winning offense. You can’t lose with athletes like MP on your team."

Next season Montclair has the likes of sophomore Eliza Larson, who was second on the team in goals with 15 and collected an All SEC American Division second-team nod. The Mounties also have one of the top freshmen in the SEC returning in Ceci Cowart, who led Montclair with 16 assists while chipping in eight goals. Cowart also collected an All SEC American second-team nod. 

Three other sophomores will return next fall, Avery Dollard, who made the All SEC American second team, and Reese Festa and Lily Donohue, both named to the All SEC American honorable mention list.