by Andrew Garda

It was a seesaw first week for the Montclair High School girls lacrosse team.

Opponents for home openers don’t get much tougher than MHS rival Glen Ridge, which the Mounties were reminded of by a 16-10 loss last Wednesday, March 29.

“It’s always tough to open against a good team like that,” coach Ann Jennings said after the game. “It’s always a competitive game between the two of us.”

The team bounced back though, and on Friday won a tough, rain-soaked battle with Mendham by a score of 8-7.

“I was really happy how the team responded,” Jennings said. She had especially high praise for goaltender Olivia Lynch, who bounced back from the previous game’s shelling with a strong performance and a key save late during the closing moments of the game.

It was a very different game than the loss to Glen Ridge, when the Mountie defense spent much of the day on its heels in the face of a relentless and physical Ridgers attack. It seemed like Glen Ridge won nearly every faceoff and constantly got the ball into the Mountie zone, scoring on what seemed like every trip.
Lynch worked hard to block the torrent of shots, but there was only so much she could do in the face of the high pressure offense.

“Unfortunately we got off to a slow start where we got possession but didn’t make that goal. Then we had two goals which just trickled in off our keeper, which was unfortunate,” Jennings said. “We lost a little steam there, they scored a few more goals. It’s hard to come back from an eight-goal deficit.”

The second half of that game was a bit of a different animal, as the Mounties came out strong and limited the Ridgers to just six goals. MHS showed a lot of heart in the second half but, as Jennings pointed out, an eight-goal deficit is too much to dig out from under.

That said, the momentum from that second half clearly carried over into the game against Mendham. The Mounties looked sharper and were able to generate a stiffer defense as well as more consistent offense. The bad weather likely helped as well, though of course both teams had to deal with it.

Win or lose, the Mounties have to be very happy to see some of their key players stepping up during the first week of play.

Senior Olivia Rivera leads the team with six goals so far over two games. Her four goals in the Mendham match were key to the victory, and Jennings expects her to do quite well this season. Junior Nora Giordano has scored five goals and added one assist so far this season while senior Jill Jennings has added three scores. Freshman Nanette-Rose Walls-Tarver has also been an important contributor in the early season.

Not ‘at our  full potential’

Better offense makes it easier to play better defense as well, and the Mounties definitely did that against Mendham. That, in turn, helped Lynch, who faced just 20 shots on Friday, compared to 25 against Glen Ridge.

Jennings wasn’t the only person who saw a difference between the two games. Rivera thought the Mounties played much better against Mendham than they did against Glen Ridge.

“I don’t think we were playing at our full potential,” she explained. “I’ve seen how we can play, what we are capable of and we definitely did not reach that.”

Rivera felt that the team was a little bit nervous heading into the first game and it hindered their efforts.

“Maybe it was a little in our heads, because Glen Ridge is our top rival. But with Mendham we really kicked it up and I saw our team progress to what it has the capability to be.”

Rivera and her coach both continue to see a lot of promise in this team, and feel that if they can play to their potential, they could achieve a lot this season.