Montclair LAX contingent helps team win Garden State Cup, Snyder hoists MVP trophy
It was a glimpse of the spring of 2023 as the best New Jersey boys lacrosse players came together in a two-day event at Rutgers University, and a Montclair Kimberley Academy player was crowned the MVP.
Incoming junior Nick Snyder scored three goals for the East team that defeated the South in overtime, 6-5, on July 21 in the Garden State Cup finals.
The Cup was revitalized this season after about a decade on the sidelines; it used to be called the Garden State Challenge.
Snyder was named the tournament MVP in playing for an East team that had several connections to Montclair.
He joined rising senior Jordan Fishback from MKA on the East team. There were also four Montclair players on the team: rising juniors Evan Schmitt, Manny Robinson and T.R. Branski and rising senior Ian Muchineuta.
One of the coaches on the East team was Snyder’s and Fishback's head coach, David Giarrusso. "The East squad played very well as a unit," he said.
Giarrusso said that Snyder was nearly perfect in the Garden State Cup final.
"Nick was very smart off the ball and played fast and aggressive when he was near the cage," the coach said. "He had great stick fakes and shot deception, scoring on almost all his shots in the final game."
For the tournament Snyder had nine goals and an assist as the East team outscored its opponents 38-21.
"It was a battle, and fitting that it ended in overtime," Snyder said about the championship game. "I was thrilled to be named MVP. I wasn't even thinking about it, but was enjoying the win with my teammates. It was a total team effort for five games over two days in extreme heat.
"Our goalies and defense helped put us in a position to win, and our offense moved the ball and made the most of its opportunities."
Giarrusso said the East team’s defense was solid in the back with Fishback and Branski against the South.
"Jordan and his defensive mates played great as a unit, great to see their early doubles and pushing transition," the coach said.
With four Montclair players participating in the tournament, Mounties head coach Mike
Diehl said it would help those players when it comes to next spring.
"It was a great opportunity for our four players who participated," Diehl said. "It was a great exposure event for all of them against some of the best players in the state in a competitive
He added that the tournament, along with the tryouts to get on the East team, will only help in the players’ development. "The majority of Montclair High School players have a stick in their hand year-round now and are taking advantage of these opportunities, which is important," he said.
Next spring, the foursome of Schmitt, Robinson, Muchineuta and Branski will look to improve on the Mounties’ 2022 record of 8-11. Despite those eight wins, the four, as well as several young Mounties, went through growing pains against top state teams like Summit, Bridgewater-Raritan, Seton Hall Prep, Caldwell and Manasquan this past season.