Montclair High School girls LAX ’22 highlight: Reaching Essex County Tournament title
The Montclair High School girls lacrosse team was as close as you could come to winning some hardware in the 2022 spring season.
The Mounties had a furious comeback versus West Essex in the Essex County Tournament finals to get the match to a one-goal deficit, 8-7, with less than nine minutes remaining.
They had several opportunities for the equalizer but weren’t able to hit the back of the net. West Essex got the ball with a couple of minutes remaining and ran out the clock.
It was the first county finals for the Mounties since 2015, when they beat West Essex for the championship.
"Although we fell short to a very talented West Essex team, our girls played their hearts out in what was a thriller game," said Montclair head coach Kim Kolodny.
Kolodny said the season, in which the squad went 9-9, had its ups and downs.
"This was a season to remember with great accomplishments throughout," she said. "We are so proud of our girls making huge strides as players this spring."
The Mounties faced a tough schedule that included the Group 4 state winner, Morristown, and Summit, which won the state Tournament of Champions title.
Kolodny pointed to a couple of victories that stood out: the 12-10 win over Caldwell in the Essex County Tournament semifinals at home on May 4 and the 13-5 triumph over neighborhood rival Glen Ridge on April 23.
"We saw our team put together a full 50 minutes of lacrosse despite the adversity of playing back-to-back during counties week and playing our rival GR," said the coach, whose team also played and defeated Livingston, 19-4, in the county tournament quarterfinals on May 3.
When it came to honors, Montclair players were evaluated differently by the Super Essex Conference and the New Jersey Interscholastic Girls Lacrosse League.
Sophomore Lizzy Giordano was named to both the All SEC American and the NJIGLL Stars and Stripes North first team.
Senior Sabrina Martin was pegged for the All SEC American first team, while seniors Lauren Morganlander and Leigh Naturale were placed on the Stars and Stripes North first team.
Morganlander and Naturale made the All SEC American second team.
Martin was named to the All Stars and Stripes North second team along with juniors Megan Previdi and Megan Crane.
In addition, senior Liza Jonasz made the All SEC American honorable mention list, while freshman Olivia Nicoll was placed on the All Stars and Stripes North honorable mention list.
Along with reaching the ECT title game, the Mounties set individual marks. Both Previdi and Morganlander surpassed 100 career points, while junior goalie Talia Cohen-Vigder surpassed 200 career saves.
Giordano was the present and future for Montclair this season, as she led the team in goals with 43.
"Lizzy is a true gamer that puts her head down and gets the job done," Kolodny said. Her passion for the game and hunger to get better is what sets her apart. She doesn’t stop after practice. She wants to be the best and ensure that her teammates are always at their best."
Morganlander not only scored 23 goals, but she also assisted on 29 tallies as well as contributed in several other categories and was known as a triple threat.
"Lauren can not only score, but she is able to assist just as well," Kolodny said. "She is such a threat from all over the field, including behind the cage and at the top of the eight. If she doesn't have the dodge, she is able to keep her head up and dish the ball in to one of her teammates."
Naturale was second on the team in goals, befuddling opponents with what her coach called her "unpredictability and lacrosse IQ."
"Even with being face-guarded, Leigh is able to break free, using picks and her teammates to somehow get her stick open," Kolodny said. "She just knows the game so well and can put herself exactly where she needs to be to score or clear up lanes for her teammates."
With the seniors graduating, more might be expected next year from Previdi, who led Montclair in assists with 40 and points with 63.
"She is always looking to set her teammates up for success by feeding them the ball, even if she has a wide-open lane to the goal," Kolodny said. "She has been the backbone of our attack for two years now, and we are looking forward to seeing what she accomplishes during her senior season."
In the back, one of the leaders was Jonasz, who was a hard worker and unselfish, the coach said. "She constantly and consistently looked to get better and worked so hard to make sure her teammates were doing everything in their power to be better," Kolodny said. "Her hustle and love for the game is what sets her apart."
One of the top freshmen in the SEC this season was Nicoll, with 21 goals and 25 assists, and she, too, will be expected next season to pick up some of the slack from the graduation losses.