Montclair pulls away in 2nd half to beat Montclair Kimberley in boys lacrosse rivalry
It has become a battle every year between the Montclair and Montclair Kimberley boys lacrosse teams, and it brings out a good crowd of students on both sides.
And that was the case on Friday, May 13, when the two squads faced off at MKA.
The Cougars stayed with the Mounties for most of the game, in which Montclair was only up by one goal, 4-3, at halftime.
But the Mounties would show their might in the second half with five goals, as they took the rivalry game this season with a 9-4 victory.
Montclair owns a 6-3 record over MKA in recent years, with the Mounties winning the last three contests.
Montclair junior midfielder Ian Muchineuta had three goals to lead his team, while senior goalie Charlie Schmitt limited MKA scoring with a dozen saves. Senior Solomon Brennan chipped in two goals and two assists for the Montclair cause.
On the other side, the Cougars were led offensively by senior Liam Hall with a pair of goals, while senior goalie Jake Pryor made 15 saves.
Coming into the season, both squads were young after graduating several seniors in the 2021 class. Both teams have struggled; Montclair raised its record to 7-10 with Friday’s win while Montclair Kimberley dropped to 3-10.
But both squads have had tough schedules. Both the Mounties and the Cougars have been battle-tested and appear headed for top-five seeds in their respective sections, North 1 Group 4 and Non-Public B.
Muchineuta summed up what it felt like to defeat MKA. “It feels great, and it’s a big rivalry,” he said. “We really wanted to beat them.”
Montclair Kimberley head coach David Giarusso said that Montclair jumped on his team’s miscues. “The second half was tough, Montclair is a well-coached team, and they started to take advantage of our mistakes,” Giarusso said. “Our contested shots led to quick outlets, and they showed some great team speed in transition.”
For both teams it was the play in goal that gave them opportunities on the other end.
Schmitt has been longtime friends with his counterpart, MKA goalie Jake Pryor. “We’ve known each other since middle school,” said Schmitt, who added that they respect each other. “We’re good friends, and I really thought he played well today.”
Pryor made 15 saves, as the Mounties had the ball on the Montclair Kimberley end for most of the game. The Cougars’ keeper was able to keep his team in the game until late in the third quarter, when Montclair pulled away.
“Both sides had strong goalie play, Jake Pryor does a good job stopping shots and is starting to get his defense to force the low-angle shots he can see,” Giarusso said.
Offensively for the Cougars, it was Hall who kept MKA in the game with a pair of goals in the first half.
Despite those two goals, Schmitt gave plenty of credit to his defense, which includes several underclassmen.
“The defense was giving me the shots I wanted to see,” Schmitt said. “Our defense is really young, with three sophomores starting, so communication is very important.”
After the 4-3 Montclair lead at halftime, Montclair Kimberley missed out on its chances in the third period to tie the game as Schmitt stymied them. “We just had to clean a few things up,” Muchineuta said about the team’s halftime talk.
And with Schmitt solid in goal, the Mounties finally were able to solve Pryor. With a steady rain falling, Montclair scored three goals in the final eight minutes of the contest, and Montclair Kimberley could not respond.
For the Mounties it was a good feeling after a three-game losing streak that included a 14-4 loss to Seton Hall Prep in the Essex County Tournament semifinals on May 5. “We had a tough time, and it’s good to get a win,” Muchineuta said.
The rivalry game had the stands full on both sides. “It was a great atmosphere at Van Brunt Field; the great part of lacrosse is the fierce and friendly rivalries you develop,” Giarusso said.