The Montclair High School girls lacrosse team made another comeback, this time in the second half of the Essex County Tournament title match on Tuesday, May 10.

But unfortunately for the second-seeded Mounties, the rally fell just short, as Montclair dropped another nail-biter to West Essex, the top seed in the tournament, this time 8-7 at West Essex. Senior Leigh Naturale and sophomore Lizzy Giordano led the Mounties offense with three and two goals respectively.

Montclair (7-6) was looking to get its first ECT title since 2015, when the Mounties defeated the Knights.

“We really have worked hard and showed that we deserved to be here,” said Montclair head coach Kim Kolodny, whose team trailed by four goals a couple of times.

But the Mounties came back each time.

Montclair was down 7-3 at the half, as West Essex dominated possession and the ball bounced their way in the first half.

Kolodny gave her team a nice pep talk between halves. “We stressed to them that we have been down by this much and have come back before,” she said.

Her Mounties took the talk to heart. As much as West Essex dominated in the first half, the Mounties’ offense took control in the second half.

“We really started with our fast break,” Kolodny said about the beginning of the second half.

Montclair junior goalie Talia Cohen-Vigder, center, is introduced before the Essex County Tournament finals at West Essex. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
Montclair junior goalie Talia Cohen-Vigder, center, is introduced before the Essex County Tournament finals at West Essex. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)

Another key was the play of sophomore Hannah Saraisky in the faceoffs, where she took control over West Essex’s Gianna Macrino. “She is super-strong and can control the ball,” the coach said.

With 8:34 remaining in the match, Montclair junior Megan Previdi fed Giordano, who drove it by West Essex goalie Jordan Cohen to get the Mounties within one, 8-7.

And the Mounties felt pretty good, with all the momentum behind them.

They had at least three opportunities the rest of the way as they maintained most of the possessions, but Cohen would stonewall the Montclair offense, which had 16 shots on goal. “She is a fantastic goalie,” Kolodny said. “We had to place the ball and move her around.”

While that worked sometime, Cohen would get the best of the Montclair offense, especially in the last eight minutes.

Mounties senior co-captain Sabrina Martin, who scored earlier, would get what turned out to be the last Montclair shot. It was a great chance driving to the goal, but Cohen stopped Martin with three minutes left.

West Essex was able to get into Montclair territory, and the Mounties’ defense could not get the ball away from the Knights, who stalled and drained those last three minutes.

Montclair has two scheduled matches to end the season before the state tournament, at Millburn on May 16 (4:15 p.m.) and at neighborhood rival Montclair Kimberley on May 17 (4 p.m.).

“I think we have to fine-tune our game, especially when it comes to ground balls and shot placement,” Kolodny said about getting ready for the state playoffs.

Montclair has lost twice to West Essex this year, including another one-goal defeat, 15-14, on April 26. But the coach said that the defeats to one of the top 20 teams in the state would boost the Mounties in the seedings.

“This should help us,” Kolodny said about the power points involved in state tournament seeding. “We have a stacked schedule and don’t really face any easy teams.”