Montclair High School girls soccer sets their sights high with an experienced squad
The Montclair High School girls soccer team for 2022 has plenty to live up to based on the recent past.
The Mounties were almost automatic when it came to wins in the last handful of years, including the COVID-shortened 2020 season, when they went undefeated at 13-0-1 and won a state sectional title over rival Livingston.
Last season, Montclair came up just short in the title category but still went 12-4-5.
But last year the team was basically young, so the Mounties could be seeing some championships come their way in 2022.
"We always start the season looking to win trophies," Montclair head coach Ashley Hammond said. "The legacy created by so many greats before is a winning one, and the girls are reminded walking the hallways of the locker room how previous Mounties have performed."
With a group of experienced seniors, the '22 Montclair squad is aiming to place its signature on the school's books.
Starting off with the Essex County Tournament, Montclair should be one of the favorites to reach the finals, with the prime competitors being fellow members of the Super Essex Conference American, the county's top division.
"That's a long list," Hammond said about which teams Montclair will have to defeat for a county title. "West Essex was terrific last year, Livingston is always good, West Orange has reloaded, and all of the other teams in the division play us hard, so we are not expecting any charity. It is great to have such a strong conference, as it will hopefully prepare us for States."
There could very well be a chip on the Mounties' shoulders after falling 2-1 at Ridgewood in the North 1 Group 4 state semifinals. Montclair had a 1-0 lead at the half, only to see Ridgewood score twice in the final 40 minutes. The loss ended a season with five ties.
"We have a lot of ballers on the team, and they know that they played some good footie last year and just couldn't get it over the line sometimes," Hammond said.
The Mounties have several players back who saw time on the field last season and should give them a heads-up this fall.
The 2021 Montclair team was hit with the injury bug, affecting the scoring ledger. Despite missing a portion of the season because of injury, senior forward Sonia Neighbors had seven goals and is looking for more this fall.
"We are beyond excited to see Sonia back," Hammond said. "As a captain and senior Sonia will be a crucial part of our program this year. Sonia brings an intensity and skill level like few others. We just can't wait to see Sonia light up the field this year."
Another player back after suffering an injury in 2021 is senior midfielder Sylvie Wurmser. "She has been relentless in working for the high school season," the coach said. "Sylvie has a very high soccer IQ, and we are excited to see her back fully healthy.”
Unfortunately for Montclair, one of the team’s top defenders, Zoe Greengrass, will miss a portion of the season with a leg injury. Greengrass made the All SEC American honorable mention list last season.
"She will be a shot in the arm when she gets back on the field," Hammond said. "We are so very excited for her return, as she was a top defender last year."
Along with experienced upperclassmen, Montclair has two sophomores this season who saw time as freshmen in midfielder Ang Mclouglin and defender Morgane Zinn.
The top player coming back is senior midfielder Caroline Anton, who collected an All Super Essex Conference American second-team nod last season.
"She is skillful and relentless," Hammond said. "There are many superlatives, a box-to-box midfield player who just competes every day. She is another leader and will be a handful for our opponents this year."
Another returning top player is senior captain Hazel Aiello, who joined Greengrass on the All SEC American honorable mention list last season. She was on the All SEC American team as a defender but will also play some midfield this season.
"Hazel is a wonderful leader and will be a huge part of the success of this team," Hammond said.
Joining Anton and Aiello in the midfield will be Wurmser and Mcloughlin. "As a standout freshman [Mcloughlin] lit it up last year,” the coach said. “She has an incredible work ethic and skill."
In the back, with Greengrass out, the Mounties have three very good defenders in Zinn, junior Lucy Parker and senior Rei Chappell.
"She [Zinn] is a brilliant defender and has come back bigger and stronger," the coach said.
"[Parker] offers us skill and calmness in the back as well as excellent speed and skill. Rei Chappell is another fearless, super-fit player who is very versatile."
One of the biggest losses to graduation was Molly Brumbach in goal. She was an All SEC American second-team keeper in 2021. Senior Teah Glorie gets her shot in the nets this season.
"Teah Glorie has patiently waited for her turn, and she will not disappoint," Hammond said. "A captain and leader, Teah is a super-smart keeper and a real student of the art of keeping. She is a terrific athlete, so we feel really good about her."
Montclair High School Girls Soccer Schedule
(Dates and times subject to change, 4 p.m. start except where noted)
Sept. 8 West Orange
Sept. 10 at Mendham, 10 a.m.
Sept. 13 Newark Academy
Sept. 16 at West Essex
Sept. 19 at Glen Ridge
Sept. 21 Livingston
Sept. 24 Bloomfield, Noon
Sept. 27 at Verona
Sept. 29 Nutley
Oct. 1 Cedar Grove, 2 p.m.
Oct. 3 at MKA
Oct. 6 at Millburn
Oct. 8 Westfield, 10 a.m.
Oct. 10 at Randolph