Montclair Kimberley girls lacrosse falls in heartbreaking Prep B tourney game
The expression "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride" is one that the Montclair Kimberley girls lacrosse team is really sick of.
Last season, the Cougars came in second three times, in the Prep B Tournament, the Essex County Tournament and the Non-Public B championships.
On Friday afternoon, May 20, Montclair Kimberley was hoping to bring that bridesmaid's string to an end in the Prep B finals.
And with a little more than seven minutes left in the contest, the Cougars looked to be in good shape, as they were ahead 12-9 against Princeton Day in a game that, at times, was played in a driving rainstorm in Montclair.
But unfortunately for the Cougars, Princeton Day's offense would come running back, as it split the MKA defense four times in the next four minutes, and Cougars goalie Orly Sedransk was pretty much helpless to the attack.
The three-goal lead went to a tie game at 12 with four minutes remaining, and then Princeton Day scored what would be the game-winner with three minutes remaining.
Montclair Kimberley fell 13-12 in a heartbreaking scenario as the Cougars’ attempt to tie the game with 10 seconds fell through. MKA senior Patricia Columbia-Walsh had six goals, while sophomore Aeryn Curren added four tallies.
Despite the loss, MKA head coach Chelsea Intrabartola was happy to get a shot at a title, especially this season, when a couple of members of the team suffered ACL injuries early in the spring.
“I'm really proud of this team," Intrabartola said. "We're a small team, and we lost a lot due to injuries at the beginning of the season. To be in the final was an achievement."
In the finals, the coach was worried about Princeton Day's quick-strike capabilities.
"We knew coming into the game that they were a fast-break transition game," she said. "We were trying to stop that."
Montclair Kimberley was looking to win its first Prep B title in three years; it defeated Trinity Hall in the championship game in 2019.
Coming into the contest, MKA knew that Princeton Day was going to try to stop the Cougars’ top scorers, Columbia-Walsh and Curren.
"We knew that they were going to face-guard both Patricia and Aeryn," Intrabartola said. "They did a very good job of breaking away."
Columbia-Walsh and Curren combined for a total of 10 goals.
But it was Princeton Day's Sophie Jaffe who made MKA pay, as she notched three of her five goals in the last six minutes, including the game-winner with three minutes remaining.
Montclair Kimberley had its chances to at least tie the game in the final minutes, including getting the ball back with 50 seconds remaining as Columbia-Walsh forced a turnover.
Heading downfield, Columbia-Walsh passed to MKA teammate Gisella Armstrong, who took it to the net in the last 10 seconds but was stopped and knocked down before getting a shot off. The ball popped up in the air, Princeton Day goalie Arden Bogle caught it in midair with eight seconds remaining, and the final seconds ticked off.
Although it was the final Prep B tournament game for seniors Columbia-Walsh, Cassie Polanskyj, Kate Weinstein and Ayantu Flowers, MKA could very well be back to win the Prep B title in 2023.
"We have a very young team," said Intrabartola, who added that close, important matches can only help for the future. "This is good for them to be in a high-pressure situation like this."
Montclair Kimberley does have another tournament coming up, the state tournament. Unlike in the past, the Cougars are in Non-Public A this season, as opposed to Non-Public B in the last several years. MKA might have been one of the top seeds in Non-Public B, but the Cougars are the eighth seed in Non-Public A this season. Last year they lost to Trinity Hall in the Non-Public B title game.
MKA defeated ninth-seeded Notre Dame, 10-6, on Monday, May 23, at home in Montclair. The Cougars' junior Caroline Murphy led the Montclair Kimberley offense with four goals while Columbia-Walsh added three goals in the state win. MKA's next hurdle is to travel to top-seeded Oak Knoll on Thursday, May 26, in the Non-Public A quarterfinals. Oak Knoll is considered one of the top teams in the state.