When Montclair’s Chris Masur was in middle school, he watched in awe as the 2013 Montclair High School boys’ soccer team won the Essex County Tournament championship.
It was only fitting that during his senior year, Masur not only helped lead the Mounties to the ECT title this past season, both on the field and as a captain, but also helped guide the team to the program’s first-ever Super Essex Conference American Division championship.
“When we won (the ECT), I kind of realized that maybe we’re on par with (the 2013) team, and maybe kids that are in middle school will look up to us and want to play like us,” Masur said.
The squad finished the season with an incredible 18-1-2 record and an undefeated 7-0 run in the SEC American Division to earn the title.
When the Mounties lost key players to graduation in June, no one foresaw such a massively successful season ahead.
Then came the first game of the season.
It was against Seton Hall Prep on September 7 — a battle between two equally talented rivals.
The Mounties grabbed the win in double overtime, securing the momentum with it that carried them through the rest of the season.
“Even though we had some really talented, gifted players, everybody was about what was best for the team, nobody needed to be a star,” said head coach Toure Weaver.
“Everybody fit into the system and put their egos aside. I think that’s probably what had us playing so well and what got us through a lot of tough situations.”
One of their toughest situations came the next time they squared off against Seton Hall Prep — this time with the ECT title on the line.
Both teams were scoreless heading into double overtime. With just seconds remaining in the second overtime period, Montclair goalkeeper Ben Middlemiss went down with an injury.
Backup keeper Sebastian Herrera came into the match and held off the Pirates to force penalty kicks — Herrera’s specialty.
Having lost in penalty kicks in the state sectional finals last year, Montclair took it as an opportunity for redemption.
The Mounties’ Will Moore, Phillip Cubeddu, Evan Best, Evan O’Brien and Will Buttner each scored and Herrera saved Seton Hall’s final shot, securing the county championship. For Cubeddu, the win went even deeper — his brother was on the 2013 team that won the title last.
“What really made (the team) work is that we’re all really close,” Masur said. “There wasn’t an imbalance of power, freshmen didn’t have to get water every day, we would circulate responsibilities. We really acted as one unit, one family.”
Montclair’s season concluded with a heartbreaking loss to Morris Knolls in the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 1, Group 4 title game, but the Mounties ultimately walked off the field leaving a historic legacy at Montclair as the first boys’ soccer team to win a conference championship.
“These guys just never quit and kept finding ways to make it happen,” said Weaver. “They made me believe.”