By EDWARD KENSIK
kensik@montclairlocal.news

The Montclair Kimberley Academy girls lacrosse team is poised for another shot at the brass ring this season.

The Cougars came up short last year in three championship games, with two of the defeats coming at the hands of Trinity Place.

But while MKA played the bridesmaid thrice, a lot of teams would give their eyeteeth to have a shot at even one title. 

So Montclair Kimberley head coach Chelsea Intrabartola wants to keep the train running and get another chance for at least one championship in 2022.

“We are coming off a very successful 2021 season and plan to continue that level of competitiveness heading into the 2022 season,” Intrabartola said.

There were plenty of moving parts for the MKA girls since they were last on the field in 2021.

The Cougars lost some quality players from last season’s team, which finished with a 16-6 record and reached the Non-Public B title game as well as the Prep B final and the Essex County Tournament championship contest.

Lost to graduation were Taylor Everson, Katie Hipp and Abby Clothier, all of whom are playing at the next level, at Yale University, George Washington University and Colby College (Waterville, Maine), respectively. All three were All-Super Essex Conference - American honorees last season.

In addition, Montclair Kimberley received bad news when one of its top players, senior co-captain Avery Song, had to undergo what is possibly season-ending knee surgery. “This will greatly impact our team, as Avery is one of our strongest players and major offensive contributors,” Intrabartola said. Song tabulated 59 goals and 25 assists in 2021 and was named to the All-SEC second team.

But the Cougars do have some good players back this season and a transfer from Kent Place in junior Cameron Lienhardt, who will join the attack. “She will hopefully be a major offensive contributor,” Intrabartola said.

Among those returning is the team’s top offensive producer from last season, senior Patricia Columbia-Walsh, in the midfield, who had 78 goals and 35 assists for 113 points. She will be playing at the University of Pennsylvania next spring. 

Columbia-Walsh was named to the All-SEC-American and the All-New Jersey Interscholastic Girls Lacrosse League-Freedom South Division first teams.

Along with Columbia-Walsh in the midfield is junior Caroline Murphy, who was named to the NJIGLL Freedom South honorable mention list.

One player who might pick up some of the slack with the Song injury is sophomore attacker Aeryn Curren, who had 18 goals and two assists as a freshman. “She had a great rookie season on attack and is expected to become a leader on the offensive end of the field as a returning varsity player this year,” Intrabartola said.

The Cougars are solid on the defensive end, starting with sophomore goalie Orly Sedransk, who had about 10 saves per game and allowed fewer than eight goals per game as a freshman in 2021. 

Sedransk was the top goalie in the county and was named to the SEC-American and NJIGLL Freedom South first teams. “We are returning one of the most talented goalies in the state if not the entire country,” the coach said.

In front of Sedransk, the top defenders will be junior Lindsay Driever and sophomore Ava Moore, who will see time in the midfield.

“She [Driever] is always a solid presence on the defensive end and will likely be a leader of our defensive unit,” said Intrabartola who added about Moore: “She played wherever we needed her in her freshman year and really became a strong member of our defensive unit.”

For Montclair Kimberley, a key contest in the NJIGLL will come early, against Madison on April 14 at 4:30 p.m. Madison won the Freedom South last season as MKA’s lone division loss came to the Dodgers.

In addition, the Cougars have Glen Ridge and Montclair on back-to-back days, May 16 and 17, at home in key SEC contests.

Montclair Kimberley girls lacrosse schedule

March 31 Pequannock, 4 p.m.

April 2 at Verona, 2 p.m.

April 11 Newark Academy, 4 p.m.

April 13 at Kent Place, 4 p.m.

April 14 Madison, 4:30 p.m.

April 18 Millburn, 4:30 p.m.

April 19 West Essex, 4 p.m.

April 23 at New Providence, 10 a.m.

April 26 Scotch Plains-Fanwood, 4 p.m.

April 28 at Livingston, 4 p.m.

May 12 at Caldwell, 4 p.m.

May 16 Glen Ridge, 4 p.m.

May 17 Montclair, 4 p.m.