by Andrew Garda
The season for the Montclair Kimberley Academy girls lacrosse team came to a heartbreaking end Friday, May 18, as the Cougars fell in double overtime to the New Providence Pioneers during the 2018 NJSIAA North 2, Group 1 quarterfinals.
The Cougars put forth a fantastic effort, led by Lily Pryor and Taylor Everson who each scored four goals, but in the end the Pioneers managed to put a button on MKA’s season in a 14-13 loss.
Disappointing as it was, head coach Chelsea Intrabartola felt this was a tremendous season.
“This makes us 13-6 to end the season and this is the best season we’ve had since I’ve been here and the first winning season we’ve had in a very long time,” she said. In fact, according to LaxPower.com the last time MKA had a winning season was in 2007; the Cougars were exactly at .500 in both 2011 and 2017.
The success, according to Intrabartola, was a combination of great leadership by her three seniors and excellent play by the younger players.
Sophia Garrubbo, Alix Talkow and Katie Gyves all stepped up throughout the season for the team.
“This is the most incredible senior class I could ask for,” Intrabartola said. “Sophia, I don’t know anyone who gives more heart, more soul. She just came back from an ACL tear at the beginning of the season and she immediately made an impact. She’s always the heart of the team. Alix is heading to Lafayette to play field hockey next year, and she has so much spirit and she fights. She’s little, but she’s fierce and she comes up with all those ground balls, plus she’s the voice of the defense. And then we have Katie, who’s kind of that silent killer. She’s come a long way.”
The play of the younger portion of the team is highlighted by athletes like Pryor and Everson, but Intrabartola said there are a lot of pieces to be excited about.
“My junior class, we have nine contributing players, like Lily Pryor, Kirsten Zeug, Claire Linaugh, Ally Raff,” Intrabartola said. “So they’re coming back as seniors next year, and then we have a couple of promising sophomores, like Bella Liu. And then our freshman class is incredibly strong. Taylor Everson, Katie Hipp, and Caroline Turgeon.”
Intrabartola expects all of them to help push this team to the next level, and use the experience of this past season — one where they upset some teams they shouldn’t have, lost to some teams they should have beaten, got seeded first in the Prep Tournament and knocked out by a team they had beaten before and, ultimately this overtime loss — to do better next year.
It won’t be easy and the Cougars aren’t sneaking up on anyone in 2019.
“It’s incredible to imagine what next year is going to be like because we have a lot to fight for and a lot to prove,” Intrabartola said. “I know we haven’t always been the most feared team in this area, because North Jersey is a powerhouse of lacrosse. But we’re climbing up there and now we have a little chip on our shoulder going into next year.”