Montclair’s improbable run to the Essex County Tournament semifinals has been the talk of the local area. At the Passaic County Tournament championship game, more than one coach, who was watching DePaul defeat West Milford, were raving about head coach Phil Delgado’s Mounties.
Even Ed Bates, while attending the Bergen County Tournament quarterfinal round, was telling anyone would would listen that Delgado should be the Coach of the Year.
Delgado noted that since his team didn’t qualify for the NJSIAA Tournament (really?), the 39th ECT will be his team’s big dance, and so far, the Mounties have brought the right dancing shoes.
Montclair will face Livingston and West Essex takes on Cedar Grove in the ECT semifinals on Friday, May 20, at Ivy Hill Park. The winners of Friday’s games will be back at Ivy Hill on May 21, to play in the championship game.
The Mounties have been to the ‘Final Four’ of the ECT just once in the program’s history. That was in 2005, and that year, Montclair advanced to the finals before losing to Caldwell.
One of the more entertaining games of the season occurred last week, when Bloomfield and Newark Academy played a night game at The Pond, in Bloomfield. The Bengals seemed to have the game won, leading 5-2, in the bottom of the seventh. But Newark Academy roared back to score four times and took a 6-5 lead into the bottom of the seventh.
Bloomfield answered the challenge, scoring twice in the last of the inning to win it, 7-6. Sam Corio (Pleasant Colony) scored the game-winning run, after she was intentionally walked, but it was her catch, earlier in the game, that had the ball park buzzing. Corio, literally, went over the fence to rob a Newark Academy batter of a home run.
Her catch was the buzz over the next few days, throughout Essex County, and even at the Bergen quarterfinals last Sunday. West Essex assistant coach Steve Mondadori made it a point of talking to Corio after the Bengals had played West Essex last Saturday, in an ECT quarterfinal, commending the senior on her talents, both defensively, and at the plate.
Hard to disagree.
Corio is the real deal.
And speaking of outstanding players, West Essex freshman Julia Vardiman is having a marvelous season at shortstop for the red-hot Knights. Vardiman has been the team’s leadoff hitter and makes excellent contact. In the field, she’s really stepped up her game, of late.
The new FMTC Top 10 has a few changes, but not much at the top.
1-West Essex (18-2): The Knights are the highest seed left in the ECT, and will look to win its first county title in nine years.
2-Mount St. Dominic (20-3): A surprising exit from the ECT will probably only make the Lions more ferocious come state tournament time. MSD does have an SEC title on its resume for 2016.
3-Nutley (18-5): A close setback to Cedar Grove in the ECT will sting, but the Raiders have a solid team and will be looking forward to the state tournament.
4-Livingston (12-9): Do not count out the Big Green Machine when it comes to the Essex County Tournament. The Lancers are in the semifinals for the seventh time in the last eight years. Head coach Jason Daily won his 300th career game last Saturday in the quarterfinals and the Lancers are playing its best ball of the season.
5-Cedar Grove (13-11): The Panthers are starting to come around, with solid pitching and timely hitting.
6-Montclair (9-13): Onto the county semifinals for the Mounties, after a hard-fought 4-3 win over Mount St. Dominic in the quarters. Montclair had a six game winning streak heading into this week’s action.
7-Bloomfield (9-13): The Bengals will take on Caldwell, at Ivy Hill Park, on May 19, then get ready for the NJSIAA tournament.
8-Newark Academy (13-5): The Minutemen will get ready for its prep tournament, then take aim at a Non-Public B crown. This is a very talented team, led by Rebecca Mandelbaum and Sophie Rosenberg (Arts and Letters). Minutemen will take on powerful Immaculate Heart Academy, at Ivy Hill Park, on May 19.
9-Caldwell (13-7) : The Chiefs have always been a good post-season team, and will look to get a run going in the upcoming state tourney.
10-Millburn (19-3): The Millers should get a high seed in the state tournament.
We have two new studs in the stable, with Jessie Masur of Montclair and IHA’s Taylor Kenerson.
Sami Huetter, Canonero II
Sydney McCormack, Syd The Kid
Sophie Rosenberg, Arts and Letters
Alexa Vardiman, Funny Cide
Emily Holden, Genuine Risk
Sam Corio, Pleasant Colony
Jessie Masur, Nyquist
Out of Network:
Olivia Sprofera, Southpaw Slew
Reese Guevarra, Sunday Silence
Emilie Cieslak, Tim Tam
Taylor Kenerson, Point Given