by Andrew Garda
BLOOMFIELD—The Montclair High School girls lacrosse team fought hard, but an early deficit to a physical Glen Ridge team led to a 14-5 final score and a Mountie loss at Watsessing Park Monday.
“When you let them dig a hole, what was it 8-0 at one point?” head coach Ann Jennings said after the loss. “They’re a good team. They’re fit and fast but we knew what to do, and we had moments of it, just not a whole 50 minutes of it.”
As Jennings pointed out, the Mounties just couldn’t generate the play they needed consistently and many things just didn’t go the team’s way. The defense struggled early, which led to a lot of shots on goalie Olivia Lynch, and there was little offense generated. When you are struggling to create chances yourself, even the bounces the ball take which you can’t control tend to not fall your way.
For example, in the middle of the second period, sophomore Nanette Walls-Tarver scored on a great shot, beating the Glen Ridge goaltender at the low post. However, the play was whistled dead just as she shot, due to a Ridgers’ penalty.
The goal was nullified, though Walls-Tarver was allowed to take another shot.
This time the ball struck the goalpost and rebounded away from the net.
So in one whistle, the Mounties lost a goal they should have had and turned the ball over.
It was that sort of game for Montclair.
“Stuff like that you need,” head coach Ann Jennings said after the game. “To get the momentum, to get them back into it and have some hope.”
Montclair did get some momentum late in the first half, scoring four of their five goals in the final ten minutes of it.
One of the things which seemed to be an issue for the Mounties was the very physical play of Glen Ridge. Their size and speed make them tough to slow down, and when things get a little physical. it can be hard to adjust.
“Again, we knew that and knew it going into the game,” Jennings said. “Some of that’s mental, though it has to be physical as well.”
Throughout the game, Jennings tried to find the solution to the Mounties’ struggles on the bench.
While she continued to rely on veterans like Nora Giordano and Walls-Tarver — who played on the team as a freshman and continues to be a key cog in the offense — Jennings also subbed frequently. That included making a change in net, to give beleaguered goalie Olivia Lynch a break by replacing her with sophomore Jada Auletta.
Both Lynch and Auletta made multiple big saves, but the frequency of shots, many of them off clear looks at the goal, were more than either netminder could overcome. For the Mounties, there’s no time to dwell on the loss.
On Tuesday, they bounced back with a 14-8 victory over Ramapo at home on Senior Day.
Next up are back-to-back games against West Essex, an SEC-American Division contest on Thursday and the Essex County Tournament semifinal on Saturday. Both games will be played at Woodman Field.
Jennings wasn’t thrilled with another four games in one week — with two against the same opponent — but will get her teamn prepared for whatever comes.
“We tried to move West Essex but couldn’t,” Jennings said. “There’s only so much to do because of the early bad weather. So we play them Thursday and then maybe again Saturday.”
If the Mounties can regroup and fight their way through the week, get to the ECT game and advance in the tournament, the loss against Glen Ridge will be a speedbump.
For Jennings, it’s about focusing on what’s ahead of the team, not what’s behind.
“We just keep moving on,” she said. “Keep moving forward.”