by Andrew Garda
MOUNT OLIVE—Life comes at you fast and on Thursday, May 17, the Montclair High School girls lacrosse team couldn’t quite get out of its way during the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 1, Group IV quarterfinal game against Mount Olive.
After 48 minutes and 15 seconds of the 50:00 game, the Mounties held a one-goal lead after Nanatte Walls-Tarver put them ahead with a beautiful shot. MHS controlled the ensuing draw and moved into the Marauders’ end, needing to kill the clock and keep a tough Mount Olive team from getting into the Mountie end.
But, the Marauders were relentless in their pressure and forced a turnover which Olivia Timmermans picked up behind the net and took coast to coast before beating Jada Auletta with a shot off a wide-open look with 22 seconds left. Mount Olive then took the next faceoff and moved back into the Montclair side of the field.
The Mountie defense tried to force Mount Olive to move the ball outside rather than send it to the cutters which had plagued the Mountie defense for so much of the game. But they got a little too aggressive and collided with Alyssa Niedjiecki as she headed for the net, resulting in a penalty shot with three seconds left. Niedjiecki had to leave the game, but Marauder Ally Mayer was subbed in and beat Auletta high, ending the game.
And with it, the Mounties season.
While the finish wasn’t what anyone on the MHS side wanted, head coach Ann Jennings was proud of the way her team fought, especially early on when Mount Olive seemed unstoppable on a four-goal run.
“I think that it’s been shown throughout the season, that this is a team that never gave up. They worked hard, they came back. They kept fighting,” Jennings said after the loss.
While Jennings was frustrated with the officiating at times, she said you can never let the officials dictate the game. She indicated that in the end, it was the Mounties’ mistakes which cost them.
“It was just the little things. Taking care of the ball, things like that,” Jennings said. “We needed to take care of the ball in the last minute and a half, and it was tough.”
A loss like this tends to leave a mark, but once the Mounties have some time to get past this bad moment, they’ll realize they have a lot to look forward to. This is a loaded team, and while they will miss the senior class, they have a lot of talent to build on.
“It’s always hard for the seniors to hear that, but you have to tell the younger girls “You have a future,” Jennings said. “And it’s a good one. That’s when things like having the younger players on the field, learning what to do in clutch situations, will pay off.”
Still she says it won’t be easy to say goodbye to the seniors.
“Some of them have really emerged this year as leaders. They stepped up and the six of them, all my seniors are good. Our captains did a great job, and they’re going to be missed. They’re going to be missed.”