Montclair Kimberley boys lacrosse can’t get offense in gear in state tourney finals
The Montclair Kimberley boys lacrosse team just couldn't get its offense in gear in the Non Public B state title game, and the Cougars saw their season come to an end with an 11-4 loss to Rutgers Prep.
Second-seeded MKA was looking to avenge an earlier loss to top-seeded Rutgers Prep, in the Prep B tournament. This time the stakes were higher on Wednesday, June 1, at Shore Regional High School in the Non Public B finals.
But the Cougars’ offense fell flat early and could not catch up later.
While Montclair Kimberley ended its season at 5-14, the record did not reflect the squad’s successes — making it to the Non Public B finals as well as the Prep B semifinals, with both runs ended by Rutgers Prep, which won both championships.
Coming into 2022, MKA had a fairly inexperienced team compared to 2021. There were a dozen seniors on the 2021 team, most of whom saw extensive time on the field.
"We're really proud of our senior class," said MKA head coach David Giarrusso after the loss in the state championship game. "It was very impressive how they brought together this team after we lost so many seniors [from the 2021 team]."
One of the key seniors this year was goalie Jake Pryor, who was blitzed by the Rutgers Prep offense, which had the ball for most of the game in the MKA end. Pryor had eight saves.
When Montclair Kimberley had a good day this season, it usually happened when the Cougars struck early.
They were looking to do that in the state finals, but the Argonauts’ defense and goalie Jack Storipan stymied the MKA attack.
"We had four attempts but could not capitalize on it," Giarrusso said about the start of the match.
Rutgers Prep made the Cougars pay for the offensive attempts that went flat in the early going. The Argonauts would score twice in the first two minutes and then take a 4-0 lead in the first five minutes.
After the first onslaught by Montclair Kimberley, the Cougars’ offense became disjointed, and the Rutgers Prep pressure started getting into the MKA mind-set.
Minute after minute there was still a zero next to Montclair Kimberley on the scoreboard, as the team’s few scoring attempts came up empty while Rutgers Prep piled up goals.
The Argonauts built a 7-0 lead with six minutes remaining in the half.
"We just had too many unforced errors, and you can't do that in a state final game," Giarrusso said. "I don't think we played our best game today."
The Cougars finally scored, but it took a little more than 18 minutes to get that first goal.
Montclair Kimberley’s top scorer, junior Evan Grossman, broke the ice with 5:46 left in the second period when he was able to pick up the ball in the scrum in front of Rutgers Prep goalie Storipan and fire it into the net.
That goal cut the Argonauts’ lead to 7-1, with the team hoping to score at least one or two more goals before halftime.
But as in most of the first half, MKA then struggled on the Rutgers Prep end, and the Argonauts held onto the possession on the MKA side.
Rutgers Prep’s Louis Marius, who had five goals in the contest, put another dagger into Montclair Kimberley's attempt at a comeback when he fired a shot past Pryor with MKA a man down.
The Cougars found themselves trailing 8-1 at halftime.
Pryor and the MKA defense played better in the third period by keeping Rutgers Prep off the scoreboard.
The offense also played better, with a goal each by senior Liam Hall and sophomore Sam Rotella, but the goals came late in the period. Rotella's goal sliced Rutgers Prep's lead to 8-3.
With a steady drizzle starting up in the fourth period, Montclair Kimberley needed to make some desperate moves to cut the Argonauts’ lead.
But it never came about, and Rutgers Prep scored two goals in the first four minutes of the period to take a 10-3 lead and pretty much put the Cougars away.