Montclair Kimberley girls, boys squads sweep Newark Academy with Prep B semifinals wins
The Montclair Kimberley soccer teams found themselves in a road doubleheader in a rare boys, girls Prep B Tournament back-to-back last Thursday at Newark Academy.
And despite being the road teams, they each brought home tournament semifinals victories.
In the afternoon match, the sixth-seeded Cougars girls (5-8-1) scored with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation to push MKA to a 2-1 victory and into the Prep B title game on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at top-seeded Rutgers Prep.
Then the third-seeded boys (10-6-1) picked it up in the second half of their battle with second-seeded Newark Academy to advance with a 2-0 victory in the nightcap. They will play top seed Gill St. Bernard’s, also on Wednesday, Oct. 26.
The Cougars girls received an incredible goal from senior forward Sofia Vinasco, who scored despite falling down when she collided with the Newark Academy goalkeeper, Gina Schreier. Vinasco was able to get enough of the ball off her foot to score the game-winning goal. Sophomore Helen Clothier got an assist.
“It happened like it was in slow motion and I was just trying to get anything I could on it,” Vinasco said.
The victory helped make up for a disappointing 1-0 loss for the Cougars in the season opener, also at Newark Academy. “It seems to be a trend where they win the first game and we win the second game,” she said,
referring to 2021, when MKA lost to the Minutemen in the regular season only to beat them in the Prep B Tournament, which also was at the semifinals stage. “Whenever we play them it’s a 50-50 game.”
Clothier got the Cougars off to a fine start with a goal with 10 minutes remaining in the first half for a 1-0 lead. This time Vinasco served Clothier with a kick into the front of the goal, and then the sophomore smashed it by Newark Academy keeper Zoe Hermans.
After the Minutemen's Ines Lopez-Silvero scored to tie the game at one to start the second half, the MKA offense continued to put pressure on the Newark Academy goalie before Vinasco got the game-winner.
For the Montclair Kimberley boys, it was a weird scenario where they took on Newark Academy twice within a four-game span, and both games meant something.
In the first match, the two sides finished in a scoreless tie, but the Cougars secured the Super Essex Conference Liberty Division championship.
And then, in the Prep B semifinals, the Cougars scored twice in the second half, one each by sophomore Joey Nigro and freshman Nitai Jiminez-Stanley.
“We were very happy with two clean sheets and the outcomes in each game,” Montclair Kimberley head coach Rob Leather said.
Leather pointed to his talk between halves, after a scoreless first half.
“I really wanted them to calm down in front of the goal,” he said. “Joey (Nigro) had a few great chances and rushed his finish. I told him, and the rest of the team, to be more composed in their finishing. It was really pleasing to then see Joey use his skill and patience to finish with such quality.”
Leather added that he came into the two games with different mindsets.
“We had two different approaches for each game,” he said. “In the first we didn't want to give too much away defensively and were more direct than we have been in recent weeks. On Thursday we tried to play from our goalkeeper and out of the back, as we felt we would have more space to impose ourselves from an attacking perspective.”
While the offense pushed the Cougars into the title game, MKA sophomore keeper Alex Provost and the Cougars defense kept the Minutemen off the scoreboard.
“He was absolutely superb,” Leather said about Provost. “His handling from crosses was impressive, but the maturity to manage the game was what stood out.”