Montclair takes care of young Montclair Kimberley in battle of area boys LAX teams
Montclair Kimberley freshman lacrosse player Thomas Meeker stunned the Montclair home crowd on Friday with an early shot that got past Mounties goalie Kyle Alexander.
The young, inexperienced Cougars held a 1-0 lead less than three minutes into the annual battle between the rivals at Watchung Field.
But the Mounties woke up and proceeded to unleash 10 straight goals as they extended their winning streak over Montclair Kimberley to four successive games with a 16-4 victory. The Cougars last beat the Mounties in 2018.
After Meeker's goal, Montclair turned the tide by putting extensive pressure on Montclair Kimberley freshman goalie Simon Hardiman.
Senior Luca Ward, the team’s top scorer, registered five goals to lead the Mounties in the Super Essex Conference crossover contest. Four different Montclair players scored a pair of goals each: senior Ian Muchineuta and juniors Drew Pfeifer, Simon Miklaszewski and Evan Schmitt.
Montclair raised its record to 2-3, while Montclair Kimberley dropped to 1-3.
Mounties head coach Mike Diehl said the victory was what the doctor ordered, as his team had only one victory coming into the contest. "We definitely needed a game where we had four good quarters," Diehl said.
With Ward's scoring and Alexander’s work in goal – where he registered nine saves – the coach gave kudos to the upperclassmen. "Our seniors did a fantastic job," Diehl said.
For Ward, the difference in the results of the matches between the two schools says nothing about how tough it is to beat Montclair Kimberley.
"No matter what the score in the game is, it is always a battle," he said, adding that he loves these games especially for one ingredient: "The fans show up every time."
In every game he expects his opponent to try to take him out. "I definitely know my role on the team," said Ward, who also was the leading scorer last season for Montclair. "We kind of mimic the double-teaming in practice."
But the senior knows that he needs to get other players involved in scoring, and the MKA match was a perfect example, as eight different Mounties hit the back of the net.
The Mounties hope the triumph over MKA will lead to a string of victories, as they face a tough three-game stretch, at Chatham (April 20, 4 p.m.) and at home against Ridge (April 22, 11 a.m.) and Delbarton (April 26, 4:30 p.m.).
The Cougars, outside of Meeker's opening goal, received a pair of goals from junior Nick Snyder but struggled to muster much offense against the Mounties.
Montclair Kimberley head coach David Giarrusso said that there will be growing pains at least for the first half of the season. "We have a lot of sophomores and freshmen that are getting playing time," Giarrusso said. "They're learning what to do."
While Hardiman gave up 16 goals to Montclair, the coach has seen improvement in his young netminder. "He's got the moxie that I like," he said, adding that he sees good things for the freshman as the season goes along.
Giarrusso knows that his schedule will be tough, especially with more games in the North Jersey Interscholastic Lacrosse League Waterman Division, one of the top divisions in the NJILL.
The ultimate target is to be ready for the Prep B Tournament and the Non Public Group B Tournament, where the Cougars reached the state finals last year before losing to Rutgers Prep.
Montclair also is looking forward to the state tournament. The returning Mounties remember the 11-8 loss to Bridgewater-Raritan in the North Group 4 quarterfinals last season, a game in which Montclair was tied with Bridgewater-Raritan in the final minutes, only to be eliminated. Bridgewater-Raritan would end up winning Group 4 and go on to the Tournament of Champions.
"I think of that game almost every day," Ward said. "We have the score of that game on the ball during practice, and that ball is given to the player of the day for that practice."
Montclair Kimberley Boys Lacrosse Schedule
(Games at 4 p.m. unless noted)
April 20 West Morris Central
April 22 at Bernards, 10 a.m.
April 24 Prep B Tournament, TBD
April 26 Pope John
May 1 Prep B Tournament, TBD
May 9 Cedar Grove
May 11 James Caldwell
May 18 at West Morris Mendham
May 23 at Lakeland, 7 p.m.
May 30 State Playoffs, TBD
June 2 State Playoffs, TBD
June 5 State Playoffs, TBD
Montclair Boys Lacrosse Schedule
(Games at 4 p.m. unless noted)
April 20 at Chatham
April 22 Ridge, 11 a.m.
April 26 Delbarton, 4:30 p.m.
May 9 Summit, 4:30 p.m.
May 11 Scotch Plains-Fanwood
May 13 St. Peter's Prep, 11 a.m.
May 16 at Ridgewood, 4:30 p.m.
May 20 Glen Ridge, 7:15 p.m. at Montclair State
May 24 at Livingston