Montclair boys lacrosse started off the state playoffs in fine form with a dominating performance at home on Saturday.
The North Group 4 first round matchup for the fifth-seeded Mounties was over almost as soon as it started against 12th-seeded Parsippany Hills at Watchung Field.
And Montclair’s intensity started from the opening faceoff as they scored three goals in the first four minutes and led 9-1 by the end of the first quarter.
The Mounties (7-11) would end up piling up the goals and advance with a 17-7 victory on May 27, setting up a state sectional quarterfinal contest at fourth-seeded Hunterdon Central on May 31.
Montclair boys lacrosse head coach Mike Diehl believes his team is improving daily. With the win over Parsippany Hills, the Mounties increased their winning streak to three games.
“I think the team just had a few good days of practice,” Diehl said. “They know towards the end of the year, every time we step on the field moving forward is extremely important. We’re hitting our stride right in time for the playoffs.”
Last year in the North Group 4 quarterfinals, Montclair lost to Bridgewater-Raritan, 11-8, in a contest that the Mounties had the game tied at eight with a few minutes remaining in the match.
For Diehl he feels this year’s team is ready to go beyond last year’s mark.
“We had a fast start,” Diehl said about Parsippany Hills. “We played hard, and we had fun. We need to continue doing that. Still, there are just little specific things, in the different areas of the game, that we need to be more consistent with. If we do that, we’re giving ourselves the best chance to be successful.”
Montclair senior attackman and leading scorer, Luca Ward, had a similar assessment of what lies ahead for Montclair. Ward thinks they can beat Hunterdon Central if they control possession.
“I think the key for the next few rounds is possession,” Ward said. “We have been working on valuing the ball. Over the past few games, we have been doing a really good job of it. That really helped us today.”
The senior had an excellent individual performance against Parsippany Hills with five goals and two assists, for a total of seven points. Junior attackman Drew Pfeifer was another team leader with three goals and had an assist.
On defense, Montclair senior goalie Kyle Alexander led the way. Alexander only allowed three goals in the three quarters that he played. In the fourth quarter, Diehl gave junior Stefan Mastrodimos a chance to play goalie.
Diehl praised the effort both of his goalies have put in this season.
“It’s great. Our goalies have improved dramatically from the first couple of weeks in the season,” Diehl said. “It couldn’t be better timing. They’re doing a nice job.”
Montclair’s early lead was made possible by the team’s incredible ability to maintain possession. Junior midfielder Kiran Singh won 65 percent of his faceoffs in the game. In the first quarter, he won eight faceoffs and only lost two.
Singh was proud of how he contributed to the team. “If we can get multiple possessions in a row, we can get multiple goals up on the board,” Singh said. “Winning faceoffs really just helps the team.”
Against Hunterdon Central, Singh could be the key as the Red Devils have one of the top players in the faceoff circle in the state in Sean Creter who wins 77 percent of the faceoffs.
Against Parsippany Hills Montclair also outran the Red Hawks in the first quarter. Nearly every time a ball rolled out of play; a Mountie was there to ensure Montclair retained possession.
The boys lacrosse team will need similar efforts in every game going forward as they continue their quest for a state title.