Top-seeded Montclair High School field hockey stunned in state quarterfinals
Chance by chance, the Montclair High School field hockey team kept getting stymied by the Westfield defense and keeper in the state sectional quarterfinals last week.
The Mounties offense kept getting opportunities and kept tallying corners, but it could not get a shot past Westfield goalie Lauren McDonough.
After a scoreless first half, Westfield took advantage of its opportunities and sank Montclair's hopes of a state title.
The top-seeded Mounties were ousted 3-0 by ninth-seeded Westfield on Friday, Nov. 4, at home in the North 1 Group 4 quarterfinals.
Mounties head coach Mary Pat Mercuro gave credit to the Westfield defense.
"I thought that their goalie and defense played phenomenal," Mercuro said. "We had a lot of chances and couldn't break through."
Montclair finished the season 16-5.
While the loss was devastating, Mercuro put the season in perspective.
"I don't think anybody expected us to be here," she said. "We graduated 16 seniors from last year's team, and we are also young. We have most of the team back for next season."
The Mounties averaged three goals per game heading into the quarterfinals contest against Westfield.
Montclair had a couple of defensemen out, including senior Lindsay Martin.
But Mercuro was not going to use that as an excuse. "We had a couple defenders out, but it didn't matter because we didn't score," the coach said.
Coming into the contest the teams had faced each other before, in Montclair’s season opener, when the Mounties won 5-0 over the Blue Devils on Sept. 8.
"The first time didn't even count," Mercuro said. "They were a different team this time."
As the minutes went by into the second half, Montclair continued to get shut out and Westfield was sticking around, just waiting for its opportunities.
With eight minutes remaining in the third period, there was a scramble in front of Montclair senior goalie Isabel Ginns before Westfield's Emma Blake slipped the ball past her for a 1-0 lead.
But Montclair persisted, and in the next minute Mounties senior Meghan Crane would get another opportunity but would hit the post. Sophomore Eliza Larson also had a couple of close shots but came up empty.
Then the Blue Devils came down the field and slipped another shot in, this time by Ella McLane, as the Mounties fell further behind, 2-0, with four minutes left in the third quarter.
Montclair still had plenty of time to get closer and change the momentum.
In the fourth quarter the Mounties continued to put pressure on the Westfield defense with more opportunities.
Larson had another great chance, this time on the lip of the goal a minute into the final quarter. But the sophomore was stopped.
The last straw came as Westfield gained a penalty shot with four minutes left in the match. McLane got her second goal of the contest, shooting it to the right of Ginns and crushing Montclair’s hopes.