MONTCLAIR – It is pretty much a matter of days until Montclair Kimberley graduated senior Patricia Columbia-Walsh will be walking down the halls of the University of Pennsylvania.

The All New Jersey third team and All Super Essex Conference American first team lacrosse player will be arriving in Philadelphia for her next stage in life as she preps for the spring season with some fall lacrosse.

Columbia-Walsh chose Penn over other Ivy League, Big Ten and Atlantic Coast Conference schools. She decided in favor of the Quakers in September 2020.

"I don't think I have ever been more excited about a new chapter in my life as I am for Penn lacrosse," Columbia-Walsh said. "The girls and coaches have been so welcoming, and I can't wait to finally be there."

Offensively, Columbia-Walsh was a one-woman wrecking crew for the Cougars. She registered 145 goals and 82 assists in her junior and senior seasons. She scored 78 goals and 35 assists in her junior year while collecting 67 goals and 47 assists in her senior season. Both seasons she was placed on the All Super Essex Conference American first team.

The MKA graduate goes to a program that has had a history of success. While Penn was under .500 last spring, it qualified for 13 consecutive years for the NCAA Tournament, including reaching the 2008 NCAA title game. Penn played abbreviated schedules in 2020 and 2021.

"Penn was the best balance of all the things I was looking for," Columbia-Walsh said. "It has world class academics, a winning program, great coaches, amazing team and a close city location."

And at Penn her scoring skills have her on the offensive side of the field. "I am going to play attack," she said, "more specifically behind the goal, known as the X player."

Montclair Kimberley graduated senior Patricia Columbia-Walsh, right, fires a shot against Montclair this past spring. Columbia-Walsh heads to Philly to play lacrosse at the University of Penn. She was named to the All New Jersey third team for her this season that included 67 goals and 47 assists. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
Montclair Kimberley graduated senior Patricia Columbia-Walsh, right, fires a shot against Montclair this past spring. Columbia-Walsh heads to Philly to play lacrosse at the University of Penn. She was named to the All New Jersey third team for her this season that included 67 goals and 47 assists. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
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For her senior year Columbia-Walsh was a major impetus for the MKA team.

"Patricia has been the backbone of our team all season," Montclair Kimberley head coach Chelsea Intrabartola said about Columbia-Walsh after her senior season. "She can carry our whole team and has had to do that in a lot of games. She was our most valuable player this year, and she is leaving very big shoes to fill. I am so proud of the well-rounded player and leader she has become."

In terms of her team highlight, she pointed to going four-for-four in defeating rival Montclair during her four seasons with MKA.

"My favorite team highlight was beating Montclair all four times we played them but specifically my junior and senior years," she said. "It was the most clear example of us being driven toward a central goal and executing our jobs."

For Columbia-Walsh it turned out that it would be her last victory as a Cougar. MKA defeated Montclair, 8-4, at Woodman Field, home of Montclair, on May 25, just a day before losing to Oak Knoll, one of the top teams in the state, in the state playoffs. Columbia-Walsh led the Cougars with four goals and three assists against the Mounties.

Individually, the incoming Penn freshman recalled the 11-10 win over Kent Place when she was a junior. Columbia-Walsh scored seven goals and had three assists to lead the Cougars over a quality Kent Place squad. "I felt really in control and was keeping us in the game," Columbia-Walsh said.

Team-wise she was instrumental in the success during her junior year where she helped lead Montclair Kimberley to three title games. While the Cougars lost all three, they pushed their way to the championship games in Public B, Essex County Championships and Non Public Group B.