Montclair High School girls soccer: Mounties fall in state semifinals to rival West Orange
The Montclair girls soccer team had a great chance 13 minutes into its state playoffs battle with rival West Orange.
The Mounties’ top striker, senior Sonia Neighbors, was tripped up in the penalty box and received a penalty kick.
Neighbors was primed to give Montclair a 1-0 lead, but her kick went high and hit the crossbar.
Basically, Tuesday afternoon’s North 1 Group 4 state sectional semifinals matchup went that way for Montclair.
The third-seeded Mounties saw their season come to an end with a 1-0 defeat to second-seeded West Orange. The team finished with a 15-2-1 record.
"It was frustrating," Montclair coach Ashley Hammond said. "It's tough, especially for the seniors."
After Neighbors missed on her penalty kick, the Mountaineers went downfield, and West Orange's Jaiden Schultz would get the rebound of her shot that Montclair keeper Teah Glorie stopped, but Glorie could not get the rebound.
Schultz gave West Orange a 1-0 lead with 15 minutes off the clock.
The frustrating part for Hammond was that Montclair had a couple of good chances, including the penalty kick, before West Orange did.
In addition, the Mounties outplayed the Mountaineers, especially in the second half, as West Orange sat back on its one-goal lead.
"That is not football," said Hammond, who pointed out that West Orange's defense would sit about 25 yards out. "We're a technical team, not a thump-in-the-box team."
Despite having 65 more minutes to get the equalizer, the Mounties could never get that great opportunity and were always one great pass away, especially in the second half.
Tuesday's game was far different from the two teams’ matchup early in the season. Montclair tied West Orange, 3-3, in the season opener on Sept. 8 in Montclair. The Mounties led 2-1 at halftime, but the Mountaineers evened it up by the time regulation ended.
The semifinals have become a bugaboo for the Montclair girls soccer team. Last year their season also came to an end in the state tournament semifinals, when they lost, 2-1, to Ridgewood.
Before being ousted by West Orange, Montclair had posted a 6-0 victory over sixth-seeded Passaic Tech in North 1 Group 4 quarterfinals on Saturday morning, Oct. 29, which followed a 9-0 triumph over Union City in the first round on Wednesday, Oct. 26.
In the victory over Passaic Tech, sophomore Morganne Zinn registered a hat trick. It was back-to-back hat tricks for Zinn, who also accomplished the feat against Union City in the first round.
"I think we're just focusing on keeping the ball and better passing," Zinn said after the Passaic Tech victory. "I think we are working together."
She said that the team’s loss to Glen Ridge in the Essex County Tournament semifinals put a big chip on the team’s shoulder for the state tournament. "I think it is a huge motivation and the last time to get a championship," she said then.
Along with the three goals from Zinn against Passaic Tech, Montclair received a goal each from junior Lucy Parker, sophomore Charlotte Dia and Neighbors.
Neighbors parked a shot into the back of the Tech net for a 3-0 lead with 22 minutes left in the first half. The rest of the way in the first half, Montclair continued to put shots on the Tech net but could not get that fourth goal.
In the second half, Zinn did her heavy lifting, as she scored her second and third goals in rapid fire in a two-minute span, at 12 and 14 minutes in, to give the Mounties a 5-0 lead.