The Montclair Kimberley girls lacrosse team was holding its second Senior Day on Friday, April 29, because one of the seniors could not make the first Senior Day.

And the Cougars wanted to make it more memorable and win their Essex County Tournament opener.

Job done.

MKA, the sixth seed, dominated in a 15-4 win over 11th-seeded Cedar Grove at home. 

It was a good all-around game for the Cougars (6-5) in what they hope will be another long run in the tournament. 

For head coach Chelsea Intrabartola, it wasn’t how her team tried to take advantage of Cedar Grove’s weaknesses, but her team’s play. “I think it was more focused on how our team played,” she said.

If Montclair Kimberley can reach the ECT finals, it will be the third time in a row — minus the 2020 season, when spring sports were canceled because of COVID — that the club will have made it to the title game. The Cougars lost to Glen Ridge and West Essex in the 2019 and 2021 finals respectively.

One of the seniors, Patricia Columbia-Walsh, had a massive game against Cedar Grove, with six goals and four assists.

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Teammates surround MKA senior Patricia Columbia-Walsh, center, after she scored a goal. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
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Montclair Kimberley travels to take on third-seeded Caldwell on Monday, May 2, in the quarterfinals.

It will be back-to-back seasons where MKA and Caldwell face each other in the quarterfinals. Last season, the Cougars defeated the Chiefs, 14-7.

The township’s other girls lacrosse team, Montclair (5-5), is the second seed in the ECT, below top-seeded West Essex. “The girls earned it,” said Montclair head coach Kimberly Kolodny. “They have been working hard.”

On April 26, the day of the Essex County Tournament seeding meeting, the Mounties dropped a heartbreaker at home to West Essex, 15-14, that was considered to be the difference in determining the top seed. Sophomore Lizzy Giordano had four goals, but the Mounties could not get their 15th goal in the final 10 seconds to send it into overtime.

“We are hoping to win our games and then have a rematch against them in the county final,” said Kolodny, whose team on Tuesday hosts the winner of 10th-seeded Millburn versus seventh-seeded Livingston (Update May 2: Livingston won that game).

On the MKA side, the Cougars were considered down because of graduations, so Intrabartola and Columbia-Walsh are relishing their “underdog” status when it comes to the county tournament. “I feel that we have nothing to lose,” Columbia-Walsh said.

Along with Columbia-Walsh the other top scorer against Cedar Grove was sophomore Aeryn Curren, who tallied five goals and an assist. Columbia-Walsh and Curren have made a great offensive duo for the Cougars, but it goes beyond being on the field. “We play basketball together and spend a lot of time together,” Columbia-Walsh said.

MKA lost to West Essex, 10-5, in the ECT final last season.

The Cougars also dropped an 11-6 verdict to West Essex on April 19 at home. The deficit was 4-3 at halftime.  

“I think that the score did not reflect on how close the game was,” Columbia-Walsh said. “It showed that we can compete with the top seed.”

This story has been updated to reflect the correct date for Montclair's game against the winner of Millburn vs. Livingston.