by Andrew Garda

Student-athletes across New Jersey have signed letters of intent to play at the collegiate level, and students at Montclair High School and Montclair Kimberley Academy — as well as one township resident who attended school elsewhere — were no exception.

While masks were worn and things were socially distanced — MHS lacrosse star Katie Giordano overcame the limit on the number of friends and family allowed to attend the signing ceremonies by having them join in through a laptop — the signers were as excited as they would be any other year.

All in all, 17 Montclair students on Nov. 11 signaled their intention to play sports at the collegiate level, attending schools all across the country, each playing at Division 1 level.

Seven will be playing lacrosse (men’s and women’s), four will be rowing, four will be playing soccer, one will play field hockey and one will swim.

Northeastern University drew the most Montclair athletes, four, with three heading to Georgetown University. The farthest from home will be Giordano, who will be playing lacrosse for the University of Colorado (1,777 miles from Montclair), while Mounties boys lacrosse player Will Labartino will be closest, just 10 miles away at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Sydney Masur will be attending the largest school, Indiana University, which has more students, 48,514, than Montclair’s entire population, 38,676.

The only student signer who is a Montclair resident but doesn’t attend a Montclair school is Max Jennings, who goes to the Hotchkiss School, a private  institution in Lakeville, Conn.

While that is the case now, Jennings did attend Montclair public schools — including the high school — for most of his life. Before he transferred after his sophomore year, he played on the varsity football and lacrosse teams. 

He’ll be playing soccer for Georgetown University in fall 2021. The Hoyas are coming off a NCAA championship from 2019 and looking to defend their title this year, if there is a season.

Montclair High School

MHS accounted for 11 of the local athletes who signed on Nov. 11. 

The sport that had the most college-bound athletes was rowing, with three — Ethan Coplan, Ted Wilson and Ryan Phariss — heading for Northeastern and a fourth, Amelia Snyder, joining the U.S. Naval Academy.

As with everything else last spring, the rowing season was cut short, but in 2019 the Huskies finished with a 5-3 record. The Midshipmen women’s rowing team did well in 2018-19 and finished No. 15 in the nation.

Boys lacrosse had three students signing to play in college. Mike Wakefield will be playing for Virginia Military Institute, while Labartino will remain in his home state as an NJIT Highlander and Matt Skibniewski will be playing for the Lafayette Leopards.

The 2020 state champion Mounties girls soccer team will be represented by two players who will be continuing in their sport at a super-high level. 

Masur will take her talents to the University of Indiana, which plays in the Big Ten and faces dominant teams in the form of Wisconsin, Rutgers, Michigan, Penn State and Iowa, all of which made the NCAA tournament last year.

Fellow captain Claire Manning will join the Hoyas at Georgetown, in the Big East. The Hoyas came in second in the conference in 2019 and made the NCAA Tournament last season, falling in the first round. 

Another Mountie girls soccer player will be a collegiate athlete, but Giordano will be playing lacrosse at the University of Colorado, not soccer. 

Lacrosse is still a new sport to much of the West Coast, and the Pac-12 women’s lacrosse teams have only been around as a non-club sport, as a group, since 2018.

Giordano will have a lot of opportunity to make her mark in a very young program, but one which finished first in 2018, second in 2019, and second again last season before the shutdown.

Devon Muldoon will be swimming for Northeastern University, which finished with a 4-4 overall record in the 2019-20 season.

Montclair Kimberley Academy

MKA had five athletes sign letters of intent on Nov. 11, with three lacrosse players, one soccer player and a field hockey player accounted for.

Taylor Everson will join the Yale University Bulldogs lacrosse team, which went 6-9 in 2019 but seemed to be turning it around in 2020, going 4-2 before COVID-19 shut them down. 

Her teammate, Katie Hipp, will also be playing lacrosse, though at George Washington University. GW was looking to rebound from a tough 2019 before the shutdown last spring, which means Hipp will have ample opportunity to help turn the Colonials’ program around.

Jake Waldman will be a Georgetown Hoya and join a team that went 13-5 in 2019, with a first-round loss to Yale’s Bulldogs in the NCAA Tournament.

A lot of soccer talent has gone to the St. John’s University men’s soccer program over the last few years, so it should come as no surprise that they snatched MKA’s Will Horn. The Cougars captain had the second-most goals on the team this year with seven and added three assists as well, helping lead his squad to the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA North East H Non-Public tournament before an overtime loss.  

St. John’s had a 14-5-1 record in 2019 and made it to the third round of the NCAA Tournament, losing to Virginia, which made it to the finals before losing to Georgetown.

Last, but certainly not least, Lindsey Yu will be playing field hockey for Columbia University. Though her senior year was cut short due to injury, Yu has been not just one of the best players at MKA, but in the state. 

She’s going to be a big help to the Lions, who play in the Ivy League with teams like Princeton, which was in the finals of the 2019 NCAA tournament, as well as tough teams in the form of Harvard and Cornell.