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Montclair's Amalya Johnson (17) and Northern Highlands' Joanna Kelly (6) contend for ball during Tuesday's high-profile independent girls soccer match at Fortunato Field. The No. 1 ranked Highlanders roared to impressive 4-0 win. (Photo by James Lattanzio/sportzdrop)
Montclair Looks To Gain Down The Line
From Experience Vs. Northern Highlands
By Steve Tober
MONTCLAIR- There is no doubt that Montclair has the talent to go on and defend both its Essex County and Group 4 state tournament titles; however, there is also no arguing the fact that the Mounties will have to play a full 80 minutes against the elite opponents it’s bound to meet down the line in Group 4 in order to achieve what they couldn’t against the top-rated high school girls soccer side in America.
Following Tuesday’s decisive 4-0 Northern Highlands win over the Mounties at Fortunato Field, Montclair head coach Rob McOmish was thinking forward, which one has to do when your team is basically dominated for the final 40 minutes of action.
Montclair (9-1) should continue to roll through their Super Essex Conference and ECT schedules (county tournament seeding meeting is Tuesday night, Oct. 13); however, there are certainly lessons to be learned from having watched the three-time defending Group 3 state champion Highlanders run, attack and defend with about as much precision as any high school soccer side can display.
“They do everything full speed and beat you to every ball and are like a mini college team,” said Montclair’s third-year head mentor. “They’re the No. 1 team for a reason and our girls did what they could for 40 minutes but you can’t win games playing 40 in any sport;
“At the end of the day you have to move on and continue to try and achieve your goals as a team because we have a great deal we want to accomplish again this season.”
Northern Highlands (10-0) rode two goals from Notre Dame-bound midfielder Eva Hurm and superb all-around play from just about everyone on the field for the Highlanders en route to its decisive win against a Mountie squad that is 31-2 in its last 33 games, but could not match the relentless, end-to-end play of the visitors from Bergen County before a good-size crowd of perhaps close to 1,000 soccer fans at Fortunato Field.
“Montclair is by far the hardest competition we’ve faced but we came prepared and found our groove in the second half,” said Hurm, a junior, who gave her team a 2-0 lead in the 55th minute after finishing a clean breakaway on a through ball, and then also put icing on the cake for the Highlanders when she converted her second goal of the match on feed from star senior center midfielder Casey Richards in the 75th minute. “When we play together as team, which we always strive to do, we feel we’re capable of great things out there on the field, and that was definitely the case in the final 40 minutes.”
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