Montclair Kimberley Academy boys lacrosse: Cougars hope the spring of 2023 is the charm
The Montclair Kimberley boys lacrosse team was not flashy last season, sporting a 5-14 record.
But the Cougars showed they were better than their mark when they reached the Non Public Group B finals before falling to Rutgers Prep, 11-4.
It was the second year in a row that MKA lost in the state group finals; the team hopes this year will be the charm.
Head coach David Giarrusso thinks that success in both the state tournament and the Prep B tournament this spring will come if the team can get hot during that stretch.
"The competition continues to be strong, and it truly is who plays their best in the tournament," said Giarrusso, who added that the returnees will be a big plus this season.
"Having been to the finals the last two years, our upperclassmen know what it takes to get there and how to finish on top."
While MKA stays in the tough NJILL Waterman division, the Cougars move down from the SEC American Division to the Liberty Division. The top team in Liberty last season was Millburn, which finished 14-3.
"We feel we will be competing with similar- sized-enrollment schools, which gives us a good chance at success at that level," the coach said about the SEC.
In terms of the Waterman, the Cougars will have some tough fights with the likes of West Essex and Scotch Plains-Fanwood. Giarusso said it will take both the upperclassmen and underclassmen together to beat some of those squads.
"The upperclassmen leadership has been incredible in the off-season, and the seniors and captains have worked hard to get our underclassmen ready to play some of the top teams in the state," the coach said, adding that the team has many freshmen and sophomores this season.
The Cougars will be bolstered by eight players who switch over from ice hockey to lacrosse. The MKA ice hockey team won the Kelly Cup this winter.
The top two Cougars are back, senior Jordan Fishback and junior Jack MacEvoy. They were part of the All SEC American second team and honorable mention list, respectively. Both are co-captains.
Fishback was one of the top defenders in the SEC as well as in the NJILL Waterman Division, where he was tabbed for the second team last spring.
"Jordan is a great leader and athlete, he is a legit college lacrosse player,” Giarusso said. “He has worked hard to get the rest of his teammates up to speed, and we love how the underclassmen emulate him, an awesome student-athlete role model to have."
MacEvoy collected nine goals and 10 assists in 2022 and is back in the midfield.
Offensively, the top goal scorer returns in senior Evan Grossman, who tallied 29 goals along with 11 assists.
"Evan is a true leader, he has been incredible with his communication and positive teaching techniques with the younger kids," the coach said. "I told him, I cannot wait for him to coach my future grandkids. He worked hard in the off-season to be a complete player."
One of the biggest holes to fill because of graduation is in the nets, with the departure of keeper Jake Pryor, who allowed fewer than nine goals per game. It could be a time-share between freshman Simon Hardiman and sophomore Ethan Bell, who saw time in eight games last season.
"They are doing a great job working on their goalie techniques but also on controlling the defense and clearing game," Giarrusso said.
Along with Grossman, the offense has the return of junior Nick Snyder and sophomore Henry McCann. Snyder tallied 19 goals in his sophomore season; McCann logged 10 goals and 12 assists last year.
Along with Fishback in the back, the Cougars have senior Trent Bednar, a two-year returning starter. Senior Charlie Kenrik takes over in the midfield and will be handling the face-offs.
In the first couple of weeks, the highlight matches are a rival game against Montclair (April 14, 4 p.m.) and a tough contest with Ridgewood (April 17, 4 p.m.).
Montclair Kimberley Boys Lacrosse Schedule
(Games at 4 p.m. unless noted)
April 3 at Millburn
April 8 at Verona, 10 a.m.
April 10 Randolph, 4:15 p.m.
April 12 Glen Ridge
April 14 at Montclair
April 17 Ridgewood
April 19 Prep B Tournament, TBD
April 20 West Morris Central
April 22 at Bernards, 10 a.m.
April 24 Prep B Tournament, TBD
April 26 Pope John
May 1 Prep B Tournament, TBD
May 9 Cedar Grove
May 11 James Caldwell
May 18 at West Morris Mendham
May 23 at Lakeland, 7 p.m.
May 30 State Playoffs, TBD
June 2 State Playoffs, TBD
June 5 State Playoffs, TBD