Monthly archive

April 2017

Lacrosse: Girls edge West Essex in close 9-7 Essex Tourney victory

in High School Sports
Nora Giordano (14) dashes down the field during the 9-7 victory in the Essex County Tournament semi-finals Saturday.
By Andrew Garda/Staff

by Andrew Garda

The two-seed Montclair High School Girls Lacrosse team fought hard and beat a determined 3-seed West Essex team Saturday morning, advancing to the  finals of the Essex County Tournament. They meet 1-seed Glen Ridge next Saturday in Livingston at 4:30.

There were a lot of heroes in Saturday’s win, but perhaps the one which made the biggest impact was goalie Olivia Lynch who stood on her head making great save after great save during the final two minutes to keep the Mounties lead intact.

The Mounties had lead 6-3 at the end of the first half and West Essex looked flat and out of sorts. MHS was able to gash the defense repeatedly and been effective at shutting down the Knights’ offensive charges, often reversing possession and heading the other direction for a goal.

West Essex came out fired up in the second half, though, and scored on back to back possessions. They then added a third with 14:22 left in the second half and coach Ann Jennings took a timeout to get her team back on track.

It seemed to work and the Mounties came out of that break focused. Jill Jennings made the score 8-6, and then after West Essex found the net again, Nanatte Walls-Tarver scored on an assist from Nora Giordano.

Then it was Lynch’s turn to step up, which she did, stonewalling the Knights on several good shots.The Mounties now have a league game against a Saddle River on Monday, then face Glen Ridge in the finals on Saturday.

The two met in the opening week of the season, with Glen Ridge coming out ahead 16-10.

It’s likely the Mounties will be looking for a little bit of payback.

For complete coverage of the victory against West Essex, check out Thursday’s edition of the Montclair Local.

Lacrosse: Boys wallop West Orange 22-7, advance in Essex Tourney

in High School Sports
Senior goalie Wiley Cates makes a save in his first game action since a preseason injury.
Photo by Andrew Garda/Staff

by Andrew Garda

The Montclair High School Boys lacrosse team needed a win badly. Not just to advance past the opening round of the Essex County Boys Lacrosse Tournament, but to get themselves off the skid they’d been on for the past few weeks.

Their 22-7 win over West Orange did just that as the Mounties took control in the second quarter and never really looked back. By the time the fourth rolled around, MHS was looking to kill time more than anything else, and find ways to get out of the match with minimal wear and tear.

It allowed senior goalie Wiley Cates to get into the game – the first action he has seen since he broke his hand in preseason – and senior Miles Lansing score his first goal with an assist from junior Lucas Bellandi (his first assist of the season).

The Mounties also got contributions from the usual suspects like senior Matt Comini and sophomore Will Shiffenhaus.

After the game the team was excited and, as young men will do, running around and wrestling. Coach John Scanlan wanted to be annoyed, but couldn’t bring himself to dampen the mood.

“It’s been so long since we’ve won,” he said, “I’m glad to see them having fun. It’s been tough, but they don’t quit.”

Montclair’s next opponent will be a tough one, as they meet West Essex on the road, Tuesday at 7pm.

“On paper, they might be considered better,” Scanlan said about the Knights. “They’re probably favored. That just gives us something to prove. If we show up, we can surprise people.”

For complete coverage of the West Orange victory and Tuesday’s game against West Essex, check out Thursday’s edition of the Montclair Local.

MFF: Laura Linney gives Master Class

in Arts/Montclair Film Festival
Laura Linney teaches a master class at Cinema505 on Friday, April 28, 2017. Courtesy Neil Grabowsky.


Four pairs of lucky Montclair State University students took a master class from Laura Linney on Friday, April 28, at the new headquarters of Montclair Film, Cinema 505.

Linney is performing with Cynthia Nixon in “The Little Foxes” on Broadway, and stars, with Richard Gere, Steve Coogan, and Rebecca Hall, in “The Dinner,” which screens at The Wellmont Theater, 5 Seymour St., on Saturday, April 29, at 3 p.m. as part of the Montclair Film Festival.

“Don’t be afraid to make mistakes,” she told the students, and warned them she would interrupt them a lot. To the actors performing a scene from Clifford Odets’ 1935 play, “Golden Boy,” she asked where they were, what time of year it was, were there people around.

“Because my father was a playwright, I’m big on text, what the playwright has given you. I’m big on asking why why why. Details affect the way you look at something, see something.”

Linney is the daughter of award-winning playwright Romulus Linney, founding playwright of Signature Theatre.

She asked the actors to pretend it was late spring, a little warmer. “Pick one smell you both like,” she said. And, she suggested, “I want you to choose one thing about her physically that you love, that you desperately want to be nobly intimate with.”

When the scene went beyond the allotted 20 minutes and it was suggested that she might have to skip teaching the alternates, she said she would definitely teach the alternates.

In the next scene, from Stephen Adly Guirgis’ “Between Riverside and Crazy,” Linney zeroed in on the female character’s pregnancy. “How pregnant are you?” she asked. The other scenes performed were from “The Flick” by Annie Baker and from the short play “Sick” by Bekah Brunstetter.

In each scene, she coached the actors to think of “text first, story first.” She said, “It’s interesting what happens to language when you’re not specific. There’s a generic quality to the voice. I can hear it.” And when it’s specified, when an actor has a specific image in their head for a name or a place, you hear that too. “There’s something about that human thing,” she said. “That’s what’s so great about us.”

Linney is on the board of trustees at the Juilliard School, where she studied acting. In 2009, she delivered Juilliard’s commencement address and received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree.

MFF: ‘Mr. Chibbs’ visits MHS

in Uncategorized
Dale Mincey, for Montclair Local.


Kenny Anderson, subject of “Mr. Chibbs,” at the Montclair Film Festival, visits Montclair High School.

MFF: Page through the Montclair Film Festival tab

in Arts/Montclair Film Festival

Montclair High senior wins Princeton race-relations award

in Community/Montclair Public Schools
Montclair High School senior Talia Evans Farkas received her certificate for the Princeton Prize in Race Relations of Northern New Jersey at a ceremony Tuesday night in Newark. Joining her is MHS teacher Jeffrey Freeman, who recommended her for the award. PHOTO COURTESY PATRICIA PERLMUTTER


A Montclair High School student who organized a protest over the Michael Brown shooting incident has won an award from Princeton University for her role in trying to improve race relations.

Talia Evans Farkas, 18, is one of 12 students who were recognized this year by the Princeton Prize in Race Relations of Northern New Jersey. There was one first-prize winner, Yu Jin Choi of Blair Academy in Blairstown, and 11 certificate winners, including Farkas. The Princeton Prize was established in 2003 to recognize high school students for their work in their communities or school to promote race relations. This year the prizes were bestowed in 27 regions, including North Jersey. The program is run through the university and administered by regional alumni committees. The winners received their awards at a ceremony Tuesday night in Newark, and this Friday and Saturday, April 28-29, they will get to attend a symposium on race at Princeton University.

Farkas said she was “humbled” to be receiving the certificate, an honor that Montclair High School faculty nominated her for. She said she is indebted to her teachers and to the school’s Center for Social Justice, and credits them with making her the activist she is.

In 2014 there were conversations online and on Facebook about the Brown shooting incident, which Farkas said prompted her and a handful of fellow students to action. The fatal shooting of Brown, an 18-year-old unarmed black youth by a white police officer in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, caused a firestorm and debate about race relations.

“We decided that we could show the community that we were here, we understood what was happening and it affected us as well,” she said. “A lot of times things happen and adults think, ‘Oh, the kids don’t care.’ Seeing someone so close to our age being targeted because of race, that really hit home for some of us. We wanted to put something together to show the community that we are here and we see these things that are happening and we are not OK with it.”

So in December 2014 Farkas led a group that planned a demonstration that was held in the high school’s amphitheater. Just under 200 students circled volunteer black men who had their arms in a “Hands up, don’t shoot” stance. At the same time, students read statistics about people of color being targeted by police.

“A lot of people thought it was a great idea,” Farkas said. “People were very supportive of it. … I think we created a safe space for a dialogue because a lot of times when talking about race and racial issues a lot of people get uncomfortable. People are afraid to say things, afraid to not say things, so this definitely created an environment where people felt comfortable to talk about things they were worried about, that affected them.”

After that protest, Farkas formed a club called Students Engaged in Racial Matters to keep the conversation going and take action against racial and religious intolerance. Farkas, who graduates in June, plans to attend the University of Miami this fall and study legal psychology, eventually doing work in the criminal justice field.

Patricia Perlmutter, a Montclair resident and Princeton alumna, was one of the judges for the northern New Jersey awards. Farkas is the second student from Montclair to be honored and get one of the awards, she said.

Track & Field: Remembering MKA coach Tom Fleming

in High School Sports/Montclair Kimberley Academy/Obituaries
Montclair Kimberley Academy teacher, coach and marathon champion died suddenly on Wednesday. PHOTO COURTESY OF MONTCLAIR KIMBERLEY ACADEMY

by Andrew Garda

The New Jersey sports community lost a legend last week as two-time New York City Marathon winner and Montclair Kimberley Academy teacher and track coach Tom Fleming passed away of a heart attack at a track meet in Verona.

Fleming carved a large figure not just in Montclair, but all across New Jersey as a champion for track and field. He was inducted into both the USA Distance Running Hall of Fame and the National Road Runners Club Hall of Fame.

He was also awarded the United Nations Peace Medal in 1977.

Fleming started out his running career at Paterson State College (now William Paterson University), where he would become a four-time NCAA All-American. He also received the Special Achievement Award from the N.J. Sports Writers Association in 1973, became a New Jersey AAU three-mile champion in 1972 and AAU six-mile champion in 1969, 1970, and 1972, named the NAIA All-American in 1970 and was Conference champion for four consecutive years.

Professionally, in addition to his wins in the NYC Marathon in 1973 and 1975, Fleming finished in second place twice while running the Boston Marathon (and six times in the top 10), and won the Jersey Shore Marathon three times. He also won the Los Angeles Marathon in 1981, the Toronto Marathon in 1978 and the Cleveland Marathon in 1978. In addition, he had two second-place finishes in the Boston Marathon and a fifth-place finish in the 1976 Olympic Trials.

Fleming taught at MKA for 18 years and touched the lives of countless children both on and off the track. Not surprisingly, Fleming spent 12 years as the meet director for the Sunset Classic, which raises money for special-needs children in schools in his hometown of Bloomfield.

Given the far reach of his legacy, it should come as no surprise that there is talk of renaming the Brookdale Park Athletic Complex after Fleming. As first reported by, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. has announced that he is proposing an ordinance to dedicate the complex as the “Essex County Tom Fleming Athletic Complex.”

“Naming the complex will be a fitting tribute that will keep Tom’s legacy alive and hopefully inspire future generations to follow in his footsteps,” DiVincenzo said to

MKA Athletic Director Todd Smith called the news “devastating,” adding “I will miss him greatly, as Tom Fleming helped me become a better coach, a better educator, a better athletic director, and most importantly a better man.”

He also called Fleming’s dedication both to the sport and to his students “truly remarkable” and his work an inspiration to all.

Montclair Township Councilman Bob Russo says Fleming sold him his first set of running shoes and a pair of Bill Rodgers running shorts from his store on Bloomfield Avenue in Bloomfield Center.

“I still have those shorts,” Russo said in a statement to the Local. “What a great coach [and] contributor to our community! Montclair, Bloomfield & MKA will miss him dearly.”

Fleming had been quoted as saying, “Somewhere, someone in the world is training when you are not. When you race him, he will win.”

Even when not running professionally, Fleming was known as a determined runner who often put in long miles even in inclement weather. When he was training, Fleming was said to run between 130 to 140 miles during an average week, sometimes closing in on 200 miles a week, so it’s clear he believed what he said.

Whether the Brookdale Park Athletic Complex is named for him or not, it’s clear that Tom Fleming’s legacy will go on for a long time, running with all his former friends, students and competitors.

Athlete Spotlight: Nora Giordano, Junior, Lacrosse

in Athlete Spotlight/High School Sports
Junior attacker Nora Giordano scored her 100th career goal on her 17th birthday.

by Andrew Garda

Normally, people ask you what they can get you for your birthday, but Nora Giordano went and took care of getting her own birthday present as the Montclair High School junior attacker celebrated her 17th birthday by scoring her 100th career goal as a Mountie.

“It felt like a major milestone in my career,” Giordano said after adding to her total against Livingston in a 20-4 win Monday. “With the support of my team, I knew I could do it.”

Giordano, a junior, is committed to Lehigh University and will also play for MHS’ girls soccer team in the fall, had seen it done before and it left an impression on her.

“When I was a freshman I watched the three captains I had all hit their goals and it was so amazing to me. So I had that in the back of my head, that now I have their shoes to fill. They did it once, so now it’s my turn.”

Giordano isn’t just a scoring machine, though, and her five assists on Monday brings her total to nine for the season.
“Once you make your teammate look good, you look good. So a lot of it was looking for the assist first and then if you have the lane, go for it. But in a game like today you have to play smart and look for your teammates.”

One thing that excites her for next season is seeing her younger sister Katie arrive in high school and join the team.

“That one year together will be great. We grew up watching each other and our chemistry would be unstoppable.”

It’s hard to imagine Giordano being more unstoppable than she has been this season.

She took a few moments after Monday’s win to talk to us.

What are your plans this summer? I also play club lacrosse so I’ll have a couple of tournaments, but go to the beach. We go to Martha’s Vineyard every year, so I’m looking forward to that. Having a little downtime. I’ll also keep training to be ready, and work on soccer as well since I play soccer in the fall for high school.

What do you do with your free time? Hang out with friends. I have sisters, so there’s plenty of action at my house.

Favorite TV shows? My favorite TV show is “That ’70s Show” and I love “Friends.” I’m watching it right now — I’m kind of a Netflix addict.

Favorite Movie? “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is definitely a top one of mine.

What’s your favorite school subject? English. I’ve really got a good English teacher this year, so I like the books we’re reading and poems we’ve read. But it changes every year based on my teacher.

Do you know what you want to do at Lehigh? I’m hoping to get into business school and do something in finance.

If you could have three other people to have dinner with, who would they be? Michelle Obama, Drake and Gigi Hadid. Michelle Obama is super-inspirational, I love Drake’s music and I think Gigi gives a good message to younger girls.

Who inspires you? I think Serena Williams is one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever seen in professional sports. I know she doesn’t have the greatest sportsmanship but I think she’s a super-fierce competitor and always brings it. She has so much heart and drive and that’s what I try to do.

What music are you listening to? I listen to a lot of Drake. Kanye West, Childish Gambino, Chance the Rapper. I’m going to the Governors Ball [a music festival on Randall Island] this summer so I’m looking forward to that. I’m into hip-hop and rap.

Baseball: Mounties slip up against Bloomfield, bounce back vs. Madison, Clifton

in High School Sports
MHS second baseman Makhi Booker steals home to tie the game in the third inning of Montclair’s 6-4 loss to Bloomfield.

by Andrew Garda

Montclair’s High School baseball team had a rough 6-4 loss to Bloomfield on April 19 but with two wins in a row following that, the team is back on track.

After the tough home loss to the Bengals on a frigid Wednesday afternoon, the Mounties beat Madison 8-5 before routing Clifton 11-5 on the road.

During the loss to Bloomfield, the two teams went back and forth throughout the game, with three lead changes before Bloomfield broke things open in the seventh inning with three runs.

MHS did what it could to move base-runners along against Bloomfield — they had five stolen bases total — but struggled to get hits, ending the game with just two. They also reached base by way of six walks and two batters hit by pitch.

It wasn’t enough against Bloomfield.

Starting pitcher Conor McGrath was a little shaky early, but settled down, completing five innings while allowing three runs (only two earned) on six hits with four walks.

Coach Ron Gavazzi liked what he saw from his starter overall, despite the rough first inning.

“Not sure if cold played into it, but he had a hard time with the secondary pitches,” Gavazzi said when asked about McGrath’s control.

“He battled and he pitched through mistakes we made defensively. And he put us in position to win the game. That’s all you can ask for your starter and if he can do that and doesn’t have his best stuff? You’re in good shape.”

McGrath was relieved by Makhi Booker, who downed his first three batters to get the Mounties out of the top half of the sixth with the game tied.

The bottom of the sixth started with Dylan Wright’s first hit of the day, and a short time later Matt McGoey scored his second run of the day. By the time the seventh inning rolled around, the Mounties had a 4-3 lead and their ace on the mound.

Bloomfield wasn’t intimidated, though, and Booker started off by hitting Robert Reboa. Jamir Ramos then sent Reboa to second with a base hit with Booker walking Craig Dittrich to load the bases.

Booker struck out Kyle Tice but walked in a run after a hard battle with Joe Giliberti, and then gave up a two-run double to Edward Abplanalp.

By the time the Mounties got out of the inning, they were down 6-4.

Even with the heart of their order up in the form of Dylan Scarfo, Kyle Miller and John Lewis, Montclair went quietly in the seventh.

Despite that disappointing outcome, the Mounties kept their heads up and moved to the next game. Gavazzi said it was a testament to the mentality the kids come to the field with.

“This team or any team we have had here understands it’s a seven-inning game,” he said after the Bloomfield loss. “They know you play to the last out. Up or down, you compete as hard as you can the whole time. Shows you that they’re in it to the end.”

Playing hard to the end, even in a tough loss, allows you to build momentum for your next game.

For the Mounties the result was a flurry of hitting. Over the next two games, McGrath went 4-for-6 at the plate with four RBIs and three runs scored. Miller, who was blanked by Bloomfield, went 2-for-4 with a double, three RBIs and two runs scored. McGoey went 3-of-4 with two RBIs and one run scored against Madison, and Dante DePasquale and Danny Banks each went 2-for-3 with two runs scored against Clifton. Both also drove in a pair of runs, while Banks hit a triple as well.

Softball: Mounties battle against elite West Essex

in High School Sports
Paige Davenport watches a low pitch just before getting a key hit in the Mounties’ third inning rally.

by Andrew Garda

The Montclair High School softball team had a rough homecoming last Thursday, as they lost to West Essex by a score of 14-1.

The Mounties had been playing their home games at Grove Street Field for the start of the season due to a conflict with boys lacrosse home games. While the field is a nice one, it wasn’t home and at times the players didn’t feel comfortable there.

Despite that, they made the most of it and won their last two games at the location as part of a three-game winning streak.

Returning to Fortunato Field, the Mounties were hoping to carry that momentum forward. Instead, they ran into the buzz saw that is the West Essex Knights.

The Knights came into the game with a 10-2 record and are considered one of the top — if not the top — softball programs in the state and are vying for the SEC-American Division lead alongside Mount St. Dominic.

Knights pitcher Sami Huetter was tough on the Mounties, but they were able to get to her during the third inning when they scored their lone run.

During that inning, Lily Silverstein led things off with a double, then ended up on third base when Paige Davenport reached first on an infield hit. Francesca Testa then drove Silverstein in with a double of her own.

Meanwhile MHS pitcher Jessica Masur worked hard for every out and gutted through several tough spots to get big outs.

While she struggled in the first inning, when West Essex scored their first four runs, she battled back and only allowed one more run through the fourth inning. Masur helped her own cause as well, fielding a hard ground ball hit back directly at her as well as a rocketed line drive in the fifth.

The Mounties were never able to claw back into the game though, and West Essex was able to capitalize on some mistakes here and there to extend its lead.

For coach Valerie Tauriello, this was just a game the team is going to have to file away and forget.

“I told them to forget about anything that happened today. I could rehash mistakes all day, but this is the type of game where you need to walk off the field and forget about it.”

Tuesday’s game against Paramus was rained out and Nutley’s was threatened the same way on Wednesday as of press time, but even if both games are canceled, lingering on issues from a game like this won’t help turn things around.

So Tauriello will work the players and get them back on track for the next group of teams, many of which are divisional matchups — in fact, five of their last 10 regular-season games are divisional games.

That means even with the loss the Mounties remain in a great position to make a run in the American Division.

“We’re starting to play these teams twice and gear up and get ready for them. That’s all we can do.”

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