MONTCLAIR- The Montclair girls soccer team may be comprised predominantly of underclassmen, led by an ultra-strong junior class, but don’t go thinking that the Mounties are a year away from being a definite title contender come county and state tournament time.
“We have a lot of underclassmen and next year we should be even better, but we know that we can be very good this season for sure,” said junior Sydney Masur, who spearheads the defensive midfield for the Mounties, but also is an adept passer up top as well. “It’s a good group of girls who want to win now and we’ll just keep coming out every day and working hard in order to try and win every match we can.”
Montclair improved to 5-0 on the still-developing 2019 season with Monday’s 3-0 triumph over crosstown rival Montclair Kimberley Academy (2-3) as junior attacking midfielder Claire Manning registered a 3-goal hat trick and the defense, led by a back four of Emma Belsky (right back), Shelby Duffy (left back) and Baldwin Gittens and Kiera Hassan in the middle did yeoman’s work in front of sophomore goalkeeper Molly Brumbach, who has done a superb job since stepping in for the injured senior keeper Amelia Platt.
Manning is a terrific finisher and loves the fact that her teammates are always there to set her up in precise fashion. Her third goal vs. MKA, which came with 4:21 left in the second half, may have been the prettiest in the sense her teammates worked the ball so well together before delivering her in open space near the top of the 18-yard area in front of MKA goalkeeper Arianna Jobst, who had to face a flurry of strong shots throughout the contest.
“My teammates give me options out there creating space for me to have those quality shots I’m able to take,” said Manning, who has committed to Georgetown University. “The reason I score is because of them and we have a great chemistry out there.”
For second-year coach Ashley Hammond, the game-planning with his current group is a pleasure to construct for each match and his very mature Mounties then go out and execute very well.
“I try to watch everyone from Livingston, West Orange, MKA, Verona or whoever else is on our schedule and then come up with a plan and then our girls execute it to the letter,” he said. “They are so smart and are a pleasure to coach because they do such a great job of taking whatever we show them and then making it all work once the game starts.”
Montclair opened the season in impressive style knocking off defending Essex County Tournament champion West Orange, 3-0, then also shut out Columbia, 5-1 before dispatching with both Belleville (5-1) and Nutley (4-1) before Monday’s triumph over a pesky MKA side.
The Mounties jumped on top with 4:37 remaining in the first half when Manning scored on a long cross from the left side that found the right corner of the net. Her second goal came with 19:20 remaining in the second half after she fired a shot home from straightaway in front of the net.
While Montclair continues to impress against all its early-season foes, there appears to be no let-up or chance of overconfidence filtering in the steady mindset of this group.