The Montclair High School boys lacrosse team knew it would be an uphill battle against top-seeded Seton Hall Prep in the Essex County Tournament semifinals last week.

The fourth-seeded Mounties had lost their season opener, 13-0, to Seton Hall on March 31 and were looking for some retribution in the May 5 semifinals.

But they had only a small avenue to a win in the second go-round against the Pirates.
On the positive side, the Mounties finally scored against Seton Hall, five minutes into the match, when senior Solomon Brennan fed sophomore Ryder Hodgson, who scored to slice the Pirates’ lead to 2-1.

But after that Seton Hall took over, and Montclair dropped a 14-4 decision to end its ECT title hopes. Hodgson and another sophomore, Drew Pfeifer, had a pair of goals each for Montclair.

Last season, the Mounties lost to the Pirates, 14-2, in the ECT title match.
MHS was 6-8 as of last week.

Montclair Kimberley Academy, the seventh seed, was eliminated from the ECT in the quarterfinals with a 13-3 defeat at second-seeded West Essex on May 3. Senior Brodie Snyder and sophomores Sam Rotella and Nick Snyder scored a goal each for MKA.
“West Essex has a very talented and athletic team,” Cougars head coach David Giarusso said. “They are well-coached and are a top-20 team in the state for a reason. We had our moments, but good teams like that make you pay for your mistakes.”
MKA dropped to 3-9. Eight of the defeats have been at the hands of teams with better than .500 records.

“We need to play with confidence and play together to compete versus those top-20 teams,” Giarusso said about the state tournament. “The team has stuck together through these challenges and are excellent teammates to each other."

Montclair sophomore Drew Pfeifer (26) is congratulated by his teammates after scoring against Seton Hall Prep in the Essex County Tournament semifinals. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
Montclair sophomore Drew Pfeifer (26) is congratulated by his teammates after scoring against Seton Hall Prep in the Essex County Tournament semifinals. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
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For Montclair against Seton Hall Prep, the difference started from the draws, where the Pirates dominated, and that put even more pressure on the Montclair defense and senior goalie Charlie Schmitt.

“It’s a game of possession,” Diehl said. “It’s hard to keep up with a team without the ball.”

Despite the defeat, the coach sees a silver lining for the Mounties’ program.
He believes that the matches with Seton Hall Prep, along with six other quality contests, will pay off in the end in the state tournament. Eight of the matches on the Mounties’ schedule were or will be against top-20-in-the-state programs.

“We’re just continuing to play highly talented teams, and it will only help you in the end,” Diehl said. “We have one of the toughest schedules in the state.”

After the match against Seton Hall Prep, Montclair had three games, including the rivalry game at Montclair Kimberley on Friday, May 13 (4:30 p.m.), before the state playoffs, which start next week.

“We’re focused on the opponent, but at the same time the emphasis is on us,” Diehl said about preparing for the state tournament