by Andrew Garda
The Montclair Kimberley Academy boys lacrosse program is on a bit of a run. As of last Saturday, May 19, the Cougars had notched four wins in a row, the crown jewel of which was a 9-2 win for the Prep B Tournament title over Rutgers Prep on May 16. It was the first Prep B title they’d won since 2012, and head coach Paul Edwards said it was the result of two things — executing fundamentals and a tight offensive plan.
“We spend a lot of time on fundamentals,” Edwards said after the Prep B win. “We don’t have a lot of numbers, we’re not a big school and not a deep team in terms of numbers. So, the first thing we have to be able to do is throw, catch and get the ball off the ground. Be in the right place, doing the right thing.”
While the team hasn’t always executed perfectly, the team started to really find its rhythm over the last few weeks.
“We’ve had moments this season when we’ve broken down in that areas a couple of times during a game,” Edwards said, “but the last three games now we’ve really hit a stride I hope we can continue with.”
It was really evident during the win over Rutgers Prep, as the Cougars moved the ball efficiently and always seemed to be where they needed to be, when they needed to be there.
MKA led 3-0 at halftime and pulled away by outscoring the Argonauts, 3-1, in both the third and fourth quarters.
Jake Waldman, Rollins Heath and Zach Kirsch all scored two goals apiece, while Christian Breitweiser had a goal and two assists.
Edwards also praised assistant coach Sabino Rodano for his role in designing an offense which could counter the Argonauts’ zone style defense.
“That’s a tough zone to crack,” Edwards said. “They’ve been running that for a long time and [Coach Rodano], who has been running the offense this year, he had that ball just flying around out there. That first possession we must have had eight or ten shots. We didn’t score on it, but to put up nine goals against those guys is a good job. They’re a very good defense, they’re well coached, and they’re athletic.”
Edwards said Rodano put the offense in place at the beginning of the season and while there have been some tweaks, the team has mostly been focusing on improving each game.
“We haven’t put any tricky stuff, we’ve just tried to get better at what we’re trying to run offensively. The players bought into it and trust each other that they would be in the right place in the right time.”
The offense continued to gel during an 18-1 drubbing of Gill St. Bernard’s on May 19 in the first round of the NJSIAA Non-Public B tournament.
Ironically, that put Rutgers Prep in MKA’s path once again; the teams met yesterday after press time in the quarterfinals. The winner is likely to be faced with a trip to top-seeded Pingry in the Non-Public B semifinals Saturday.
Repeating the success they had last week will be tough though, and Edwards knows Rutgers Prep will be ready to try and get some vengeance.
He’ll rely on goaltender Alex Melitz, who stopped 10 of 12 shots he faced against the Argonauts the first time out. They’ll also need the defense to continue to play well, and control the Rutgers Prep offense to keep Melitz from having to make too many big saves.