The Montclair boys lacrosse team will hopefully look back at April 21 as the date of a critical game in its 2022 season.

With only one win in hand to that point, the Mounties hosted one of the top 10 teams in the state that day. 

And they won.

The Mounties (2-7) triumphed over Ridgewood 7-6 at home, in the process gaining some revenge for a 9-7 loss to the Maroons in the Group 4 semifinals last season.

Montclair head coach Mike Diehl pointed to the practices that made perfect before the Ridgewood match.

“Tactically, there were some changes; however, I believe the real reason we succeeded versus Ridgewood was because of the way we practiced prior to the game,” Diehl said. 

“Our players were physically and mentally challenged during the practices leading up to Ridgewood, and they responded appropriately. We focused a lot on toughness, grit and winning ground balls/possession.”

While Montclair stumbled on Saturday against Delbarton (14-3 on the road as of April 23), the Green Wave is one of the top three teams, if not the best team, in New Jersey.

But for the Mounties, teams like Ridgewood will be the types that the Mounties will need to beat if they want to get to the Group 4 title game.

“We have proven to ourselves we are capable of playing at a very high level,” Diehl said about the victory over Ridgewood. “The standard has been raised. If we prepare with the same intensity and discipline constantly moving forward, we will continue to succeed.”

Montclair junior Luca Ward, shown getting checked against Manasquan on April 16, scored a goal and had a pair of assists in the 7-6 win over Ridgewood on Saturday, April 20. (Edward Kensik/Staff).
Montclair junior Luca Ward, shown getting checked against Manasquan on April 16, scored a goal and had a pair of assists in the 7-6 win over Ridgewood on Saturday, April 20. (Edward Kensik/Staff).
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In the victory over the Maroons, it was senior goalie Charlie Schmitt and the Mounties’ defense that kept Ridgewood off the board as the seconds ticked off at the end of the game.

“Charlie played excellent in goal, with 15 saves on the day,” the coach said. “He was very consistent with his saves and even better with his clearing and outlets.”

Diehl also gave the Mounties’ defense plaudits. “The defense as a whole unit really came together and had a ton of success,” the coach said.

Two Montclair defensemen especially came to the rescue for the Mounties against Ridgewood, senior Konrad Miklaszewski and sophomore Gabe Epstein, who limited the Maroons’ top scorers.

Sophomore Drew Pfeifer led the Montclair offense against Ridgewood with three goals and an assist. 

“Drew proved he can be a game-changer even as a sophomore,” Diehl said. “He had three big-time goals in a big-time game. In the beginning of the year he was getting used to the speed of the varsity level and thinking too much instead of reacting. Ultimately, Drew can be as good as he chooses to be. The sky is the limit.”

Junior Ian Muchineuta added a pair of goals; junior Luca Ward and senior Solomon Brennan each had a goal and a pair of assists.