The Montclair Kimberley girls soccer team has gone through a little bit of growing pain to start the 2022 campaign.

The Cougars lost a game they should have won, played a quality game in a victory and then lost to one of the best teams in Essex County, Livingston, 3-0, on Friday, Sept. 16. MKA is 1-2 on the season. 

But head coach Jordan Raper and the Cougars can take solace in beating West Essex, 2-0, on Wednesday, Sept. 14. It was a nice win, since the season opener for the Cougars was a dud: They lost 1-0 at Newark Academy despite dominating the Minutemen in the Sept. 10 contest.

Raper said before the season started that the target is to compete for every possible piece of hardware.

"Our goals are always to compete for every championship we play for," the coach said. "That starts with the SEC and ends with the state tournament."

Montclair Kimberley senior midfielder Bella Douglas said that the team is looking to finish off one of the tournaments and bring home a trophy.

Last season the Cougars reached both the Prep B Tournament and the Non Public North A state sectional finals, only to fall short. MKA lost 1-0 to Rutgers Prep in the Prep B title match and 2-0 to Immaculate Heart Academy in the Non Public North A championship.

Senior Bella Douglas scored a goal as the Cougars registered a 2-0 win at West Essex on Wednesday, Sept. 14. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
Senior Bella Douglas scored a goal as the Cougars registered a 2-0 win at West Essex on Wednesday, Sept. 14. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
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For 2022 Raper points to the potential for his team to get another shot at the same championships.

"I like the depth we have this year, and we have some higher-end players in all areas of the field," the coach said.

Coming into the season the Cougars had several All SEC players returning, led by Douglas, who was All SEC American Division first team.

"I like her work ethic, desire, tenacity and will to win," Raper said. "She will be all over the field, hard to tie her to one position … She's a real game-changer."

Senior Caia Carlesimo controlling the ball against West Essex's Kalea Guzman. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
Senior Caia Carlesimo controlling the ball against West Essex's Kalea Guzman. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
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Seniors Caia Carlesimo, a forward, and Brooke Huntington, a defender, received All SEC American second-team honors last season.

"She (Carlesimo) presses from the front well and leads our attack," Raper said, adding about Huntington: "She never gets flustered, is reliable and very good on the ball. Will always play wherever asked to and always gives everything she has."

Senior forward Sofia Vinasco and sophomore goalkeeper Lindsay Fouche were on the 2021 All SEC American honorable mention list. "Both are technically very good and ultracompetitive," the coach said.

The win over West Essex might have been one of the more important ones for the Cougars this season in the early going.

MKA came in against West Essex off the disappointing loss at Newark Academy.

"That was a tough pill to swallow," Douglas said. She added about the match against West Essex: "We wanted to fix our season."

She scored the first goal against West Essex with 10 minutes remaining in the first half, giving the Cougars the upper hand in the game.

It was sophomore Helen Clothier who locked up the victory with a goal with five minutes remaining in the match by kicking a shot by West Essex keeper Ella Clausi. 

"I saw that they were stepping into the ball," said Clothier, who went the other way and set up a seam to the goal.

In addition to making amends for the loss to Newark Academy, the returning Cougars recalled a 2-0 loss at West Essex in 2021 that was called 30 minutes into the match because of weather.

"We were so angry about last season," Douglas said. "We tried to finish the game, but they just wanted the win."

Montclair Kimberley Girls Soccer Schedule
(Dates and times subject to change, 4 p.m. start except where noted)

Sept. 23 Verona
Sept. 27 at Nutley, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 29 at West Orange
Oct. 1 Glen Ridge, TBA
Oct. 3 Montclair
Oct. 6 Prep B Quarterfinals, TBD
Oct. 10 Essex County Tournament preliminaries, TBD
Oct. 12 Essex County Tournament first round, TBD
Oct. 14 Essex County Tournament, quarterfinals, TBD
Oct. 18 Essex County Tournament semi-finals, TBD
Oct. 20 Prep B semi-finals, TBD
Oct. 22 Essex County Tournament final, TBD
Oct. 25 at Kent Place
Oct. 28 Prep B Final, TBD