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Montclair's unsung senior left back Erin Silverman did the job in unaccustomed role of man marking MKA's star forward Olivia Vaughn during Wednesday night's Essex County Girls Soccer Tournament semifinals. The top-seeded Mounties earned a 2-0 win and 19th trip to final. (Photos by Glenn Kross-www.glennkrossphotography.com)
MKA's Olivia Vaughn (18) goes up to head ball vs. Montclair in Wednesday night's semifinal action as the top-seeded Mounties defeated their crosstown neighbors.
Montclair's sophomore goalkeeper Gabby Isola made one of the plays of the night while also solidifying her team in the back while recording her ninth shutout in 2014.
The Montclair girls celebrate Lucia Surraco's goal in the game's 16th minute
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“If you look at the teams that have beat them, she was man marked, and the teams that let her go, she scored three or four goals against,” said Rob McOmish, Montclair’s second-year head coach. “I think we’re too experienced to allow that to happen.
“Someone like Erin Silverman, who no one knows about, steps on and does an excellent job. Yesterday, (assistant coach) Meg Morris was Olivia Vaughn in practice, and Erin did a good job yesterday and she proved she could do the job tonight against one of the best players in the state.”
Silverman, who is usually ensconced at either a back or midfield slot, adjusted well to her unaccustomed role on Wednesday night.
“It’s the first time I ever did that, but I just tried to do my best,” she said. “It’s different than the normal style of play, but I think we adjusted well.
“We knew that she was fast. I hadn’t played with her since I was much younger and I didn’t know how technical she was, but she is really good. I just tried to match up with her and do the job I was told to do.”
Meanwhile, Montclair was able to get that all-important early first half goal against MKA as Surraco, a converted defender who has flourished in her new role up top this fall, found the back of the lower left corner of the net with a low shot from 25 yards out in the 16th minute of play.
“That first one kind of gave us the confidence we always have,” said McOmish. “It was certainly wet out there, but our girls had enough time to warm up and they know the ball is going to skip, but we’ve played enough soccer on turf to know what’s going on, and that there is going to be cold and there is going to be dew, and you simply have to play through it.
“We made adjustments, we got that early goal and we did a great job and I’m happy with the result.”
Montclair made it 2-0 in the 57th minute as Jennings broke free after taking a nice through pass from Samantha Masur and buried the ball in the lower right corner of the net.
Then, just a minute later, Isola, the splendid sophomore keeper for Montclair, then made her most impressive play of the night, running out to meet Vaughn, who had broken free for a moment and was on her way to a breakaway opportunity on goal. Isola never hesitated in running full tilt toward Vaughn as the MKA star forward was about to make her final push after gathering the ball, and kicked it out over the sideline to save what could have been an almost sure goal for the Cougars.
“In the moment, you just have to go for the ball,” said Isola. “She’s a great player, but I wasn’t thinking about that when I came out.”
Isola’s coach was quite pleased with the decision of his young keeper.
“Gabby is very smart and reads things, and she knew if she wasn’t going to get to that ball what could happen,” said McOmish. “Maybe she gets Vaughn and they get a free kick, but I’d rather have a free kick than a free goal.”
Now, it’s on to the finals against a solid Glen Ridge team the Mounties have beaten twice in their regular-season Super Essex Conference-American Division matches (2-0, back on Sept. 20 at Fortunato Field in Montclair, and 2-1, Oct. 13, in Glen Ridge), and there will be another challenge to try and contain the Ridgers’ own star in Kennedy, the Princeton commit with a dangerous presence in any opponent’s 18-yard area around the goal.
“She’s another one of the best players out there and we will adjust accordingly,” said McOmish. “Our team does what it has to do in terms of how we feel we need to be best prepared for each opponent.”
And, it’s a Montclair team that could make a deep run as well in the upcoming Group 4 state tournament. The second-seeded Mounties will host 15 th-seeded Union City on Tuesday in a first-round North 1, Group 4 encounter.
“Collectively, as a group, we’re a bunch of girls a lot of people don’t know that much about, but this is one of our better groups in Montclair as a whole,” he said. “We’ve had great players, but this group, as a whole, really has it together, and hopefully we can make a deep run in the states after going out and winning a county championship Saturday night.”
Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister
Senior Lindsey Ewertsen is one of the steady veteran players for top-seeded Montclair
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