Montclair lacrosse: Romano goal pushes Mounties into ECT final
PHOTO BY ANDREW GARDA/STAFF
by Andrew Garda
It took 50 minutes of regulation, five 3-minute periods of overtime, 33 shots and one timely Abbey Romano goal for the second-seeded Montclair High School girls lacrosse team to beat the third-seeded West Essex Knights 7-6 and punch their ticket to the Essex County Tournament finals.
Now they have another shot at Glen Ridge top-seeded Glen Ridge, a team which gave the Mounties fits in a 14-5 loss on April 23, as the two meet at Verona High School’s Sellitto Field on Saturday at 4 p.m. to decide who the ECT Champion will be for 2018.
It’s not the first time in the last stretch of games where the Mounties have faced a team in the tournament which they had recently played in the regular season. MHS played — and beat — West Essex 12-10 on April 26, just two days before they met again in the overtime extravaganza.
That made for a tougher game perhaps than might have occurred if the two teams last game had been in the more distant past.
“West Essex is a good team and we just played them on Thursday, which is tough,” head coach Ann Jennings said after the win. “They can readjust, we can readjust. They faceguarded Nora [Giordano], we faceguarded their best player.”
Giordano was all over the field on Saturday, constantly working to get free for a pass or to make a play and continually forcing the Knights to focus more and more attention on where she was, allowing other players like her sister Katie to do things like score the tying goal and send the game into overtime.
For Jennings, this is just what the elder Giordano has been building towards this season.
“I think she’s culminating into who she is,” Jennings said of the Lehigh commit. “She’s a great player, but at times she tries to do a lot herself. I think the past couple of games, she’s wanted to carry the team on her back but she’s knowing the right things to do. How to get herself open, how to get her teammates open and to really lead the team, to try and keep everybody composed. She’s been doing a great job and today she just worked hard all 50 minutes. Like everybody but, it’s tough — she’s taking the draw, she’s back and forth, offense/defense. Being man-marked. She did a great job.”
Giordano wasn’t the only one, as Missy Wrede scored three times, twice in the first half alone which kept the Mounties tied heading into halftime. And goaltender Olivia Lynch did an excellent job, especially in the last ten minutes of regulation when the Mounties were down a goal and the Knights were desperately trying to extend their lead.
For Jennings, it’s no surprise that there is always someone who will step up on this team.
“At the end of the game you want to ball in your best player’s hands but the one thing about this team is, they all work together and work hard together,” Jennings said. “They just stayed composed, which was good. We had a few moments of panic but then we regrouped and got it together. And to do this many overtimes, that’s tough to stay composed and to make the smart shot and stay good on defense.”
The Mounties were especially good on defense in overtime, when the majority of play took place in the West Essex end. The Knights’ goalie turned away shot after shot during four of the three minute long overtime sections, but the Mounties never allowed themselves to get frustrated and kept up the pressure.
“Who we reminded some of the leadership that they’ve been in this situation before,” Jennings said. “Especially people like Olivia, Missy, Jen [Heath], Nora, Nannette [Walls-Tarver], Abby — we had a lot of overtimes last year. So, they were able to help the younger ones, remind them what to do. And they stepped up.”
Now the Mounties find themselves having to prepare for a tough, physical Glen Ridge team. They get a bit of a break this week, after two weeks of four games per week, as they only had Vernona on Wednesday.
For Jennings, it’s critical that while the team works hard, that they also give themselves a chance to catch their breath to prepare for what will be an exhausting finals game.
“We have to make sure they all recover well,” Jennings said. “Take care of their bodies. We have a lighter week, which is good. But we’ll just keep preparing for the next game.”