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***Hillside is enjoying resurgence under the guidance of head coach Barris Grant as the Comets have clinched their first playoff berth in 9 years with win over Del Val!

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***The West Orange girls soccer team is enjoying a season for the ages but will now enter the most critical stretch starting with the ECT semifinals Wednesday night. Learn more in "Feature Articles"

***In examining significance of Irvington's 84-0 football victory over Belleville one is reminded of why we indeed should care about high school sports. See"The Buzz"

West Essex's Julia Russo (7) celebrates her goal along with teammate Ellie Decker (2) alongside Montclair's Grace Crandall (17) in this past Saturday afternoon's Essex County Field Hockey Tournament final in North Caldwell. The Lady Knights captured their seventh consecutive title with their decisive 7-1 win over Mounties. (Photo by Doug Allen)

West Essex Still Owns ECT Field Hockey
After Copping 7th Straight Championship
By Steve Tober
For sidelinechatter.com

NORTH CALDWELL- West Essex appears ready for another state tournament run, and whether or not that means a successful defense of its NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title remains to be seen, but the Lady Knights are back on their ‘A’ game after a couple of recent hiccups prior to this past Saturday’s impressive 7-1 victory over rival Montclair in the finals of the Essex County Tournament.

The Lady Knights are an overwhelming favorite to cop another North 1, Group 2 state sectional title when they embark on that quest beginning Thursday against the winner of the 8-Jefferson vs. 9-High Point first round contest.

In the meantime, Wessex (16-2) is clicking, regrouping and learning valuable lessons following losses to state powers Moorestown (2-0, Oct. 12) and Oak Knoll (5-1, Oct. 17)

“Honestly, I think those losses were very humbling and help us get ready for the states,” said Wessex senior forward Julia Russo who scored her 100th career goal to cap the Lady Knights’ offensive barrage against Montclair in the county final. “Even though those loses stink when they happen, they do help us in the long run.”

Wessex and Montclair now both begin their respective state tourney quests and the ECT final, in which they’ve now met in for eight straight years and in 13 of the past 14 years, is a great jump-start to the final preparations for both squads.

As Montclair prepares for its North 1, Group 4 state tournament sectional quarterfinal vs. Ridge on Friday (Oct. 27) it can continue to build on what has already been established during the past month, and certainly in the past couple of weeks as the team has played some of its better field hockey of the 2017 season.

“Montclair is vastly improved from the first time we played them,” said West Essex coach Jill Cosse, whose Lady Knights have won seven straight ECT crowns since the Mounties last won the ECT in 2010. “Mary Pat is a great coach and she has a talented coaching staff, and her kids always fight.

“You can’t come into this game with Montclair if one team is better than the other and give anything away. Playing Montclair in the final always prepares you for a state run, and I think without this game you sit on your heels going in. With this game, Montclair puts you on your toes and as you get ready for the states you also want them to go far because it gives power to Essex County.”

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