Soccer: Cougars share first Non-Public B title ever
PHOTO BY ANDREW GARDA/STAFF
by Andrew Garda
UNION—Three times, the Montclair Kimblerley Academy girls soccer team fell behind the Moorestown Friends team and three times they came back with a goal of their own.
It was a gutty, never-say-die perfomance by a team which has played with a chip on their shoulder all year during a run which netted MKA not only their first NJSIAA Non-Public B State title, but their first NJSIAA Non-Public B North Sectional title as well as another Prep B title.
“It’s definitely a little unfortunate that we got the result we did,” MKA senior Kerri McGuire said after the game. “It wasn’t exactly what we wanted but we can’t complain. We made school history.”
“This is a dream season,” head coach Christie Welsh said. “Sometimes seasons like this don’t ever come around again. You hope that they do, and we’ll work for it. But it’s hard right now in the moment for some of [the team] to see it, but what they’ve done to get here, is absolutely unbelieveable.”
The Cougars captured their Sectional title on Thursday, November 9. as they blasted Morristown Catholic by a score of 4-0. During that game, McGuire scored twice and assisted on one goal, with Jaime Fuchs and Claire Sharbaugh each adding one.
It was the school’s first sectional title in three trips to the final throughout it’s history and it set up Sunday night’s game against the Moorsetown Friends Foxes.
MF got on the board first when they got a shot past keeper Arianna Jobst with 12:30 in the first half. The Cougars were undaunted, however, and Katie Hipp responded with a goal at 7:30.
Welsh loved that Hipps had stepped up when the team needed her to.
“You have a freshman who, all season, has really worked hard for us in Katie [Hipp],” Welsh waid. “She doesn’t ever stop. She’s got that [intensity] kind of thing and we were hoping all along that would pan out and today it does.”
The two teams went back and forth for much of the first half, and headed into halftime locked at 1-1.
At the start of the second half, MF was able to build some pressure and almost immediately scored again to go up 2-1.
Once again, the Cougars responded, this time in the person of McGuire. who scored her 24th goal of the season. The strike came on a fantastic header in the 33rd minute of the half and pulled MKA even again at 2-2.
MF would score again just six minutes later on a penalty kick, which the MKA faithful disagreed with. Welsh shrugged any controversy off.
“You could clearly see on the replay it wasn’t [a penalty] and that’s OK. That’s soccer,” Welsh said after the game. “[The official] is making a call in a second and you have to respect that and he’s is out there doing the best he can.”
MKA didn’t hang their heads though, and if anything seemed to respond by playing even more aggressively.
That payed off when Lily Pryor fired in a shot from just inside the box to beat the MF keeper and tie things back up.
“Lily Pryor has been, hands down, in the last three games for us, probably one of our most valuable players,” Welsh said. “She was fantastic again today.”
The game would then go into overtime, and the Cougars were in control from the moment the whistle blew on both periods.
“At the beginning of overtime, I said look, we’ve come from behind three times, now it’s our time to score first,” Welsh said.
“I think it just kicked in that we didn’t want a third co-champ,” McGuire said. “We wanted that title to ourselves.”
Nobody embodied that all or nothing attitude quite like McGuire in her last game as a Cougar. After sprinting all over the field all game and into the first overtime, it was clear the Villanova commit had hurt her hand or wrist. But she took the field in the second overtime and while she was clearly in pain, continued her hard play throughout the ten minutes.
In the end, time expired with neither team scoring despite much of the offensive chances coming from MKA.
While a tie wasn’t what her team wanted, Welsh was pleased with her team and its effort.
“We played soccer today. If you were to tally up the passes and possesion, our team played fantastic in that regard. And, you know, we struggled at times, this season, to score so to put three goals on the board, you have to be happy with that in a way.”