by Andrew Garda
A gorgeous Saturday afternoon on April 13 at Montclair Kimberley Academy’s Van Brunt Field saw a new addition to the grand tradition boys lacrosse between MKA and Montclair High School. The day also saw money raised for the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA.org).
While the game didn’t break the Cougars’ way, with the Mounties dominating the second half on their way to a 9-4 win, MKA head coach Paul Edwards felt that in the larger scheme of things, the affair was a success.
“For lacrosse in Montclair, it was a fantastic day,” he said after the game. “Great turnout, and MHS participated totally, from the coaches on through to the parents. So in terms of what we were trying to do for the charity, fantastic.”
MHS head coach Mike Diehl agreed.
“Coach Edwards reached out to me and let me know this was a charity game for cancer,” Diehl said. “He wanted to see if anybody, any parents or players, wanted to buy the shirts and help raise money.”
Both coaching staffs and a fair amount of the crowd wore special MKA vs MHS 2019 game shirts, and along with those, money was raised via food sales by “Hog Day Afternoon BBQ & Catering,” which had a food stand with all proceeds going to the charity.
On the field, things seemed evenly matched, at least early on. Dylan Hall got MKA on the board first at 11:26 in the first quarter, but Tyler Fullerton equalized the score for the Mounties with a nice score at 9:08.
Then Schiffenhaus scored the first of his goals to put Montclair High ahead 2-1 at the 7:19 mark, and Anthony Jackson added to the lead when he beat MKA goalie Jake Pryor to give MHS a 3-1 lead.
Hall scored again for MKA, but then Jeikson Boyle and Schiffenhaus both scored to make it a 5-2 lead.
The Cougars’ Rollins Heath cut MHS’ lead to 6-3, but Christian Sanchez responded for the Mounties with a hard shot with less than 10 seconds left to send MHS into halftime up 7-3.
“Something we really talked about a lot up until this game was just, from the first whistle, outworking MKA,” Diehl said. “We try to start practice with high intensity, just to mimic the first quarter of the game, coming out with a lot of energy. And I think from the first whistle, we did that.”
“We hit three or four pipes, so we had some looks.” Edwards said. “Offensively, I thought we were a little cautious at times, and a little tentative with the ball. But when we ran our offense, we got some good looks and we either didn’t finish the shot or the goalie made a good save.”
The second half saw a lot less scoring, but no less energy from both teams.
The third period saw no scoring until Schiffenhaus notched his third goal with 4:38 seconds left in the period before the officials called multiple penalties at the 2:00 mark. There was a delay of nearly 10 minutes while they sorted out who was being flagged for what.
The break in momentum seemed to help MKA, as OB Sedransk quickly scored to pull the Cougars to within four points, trailing 8-4.
It didn’t last, as MHS continued to disrupt MKA’s offense into the fourth quarter, which saw Schiffenhaus score his fourth goal of the day, giving the game its final 9-4 score.
Diehl credited a lot of the team’s ability to limit MKA’s goals to MHS goalie Drew Skibniewski.
“[Skibniewski’s] done a great job of keeping everyone together, and he started doing that in preseason,” Diehl said of his senior captain. “He really had a great day in between the pipes and a lot of their opportunities he was there to make a big save.”
Skibniewski credited his defense for the success he has had, not just on Saturday, but this year.
“They did a great job letting me see the shots I wanted, a lot of outside shot,” said Skibniewski, who committed to play lacrosse at Wesleyan University this past summer. “We just stuck to the game plan and really, if we can do that every game we’re going to get a win.”
“We identified a few guys on their team that we knew we had to control in the game, and Harrison Blanz defensively did a very nice job with that,” Diehl said. “Henry Painter did a great job with that as well.”
Along with Skibniewski, the Mounties got a lift from Will Schiffenhaus. The Naval commit scored four goals, adding one assist for a total of five points, allowing him to surpass former Mounties player Anthony Perna, who held the previous record at 120.
Schiffenhaus’ total now stands at 122.
“Will Schiffenhaus just took over the game when he needed to,” Diehl said.
MKA tried to contain Schiffenhaus, but there was only so much to do.
“We had Ethan Gross back,” Edwards said. “I thought he played [Schiffenhaus] well, but he’s a strong kid and he gets his goals, so credit to him.”
Edwards felt that Diehl and his staff did a good job in planning for MKA’s team and executing that plan.
“I thought they knew our strengths, and defended our guy’s strengths. And their goalie played really well, he made some really key saves,” he said.
With the MKA-MHS rivalry game done, both teams now have to reset before some tough matchups. The Mounties played Verona on the road Monday, April 15, beating them 11-7 to improve their record to 6-3 before meeting powerhouse Seton Hall Prep on Wednesday (results after press time).
Meanwhile, MKA played Livingston at home on Wednesday, April 17, 4p.m., with results after press time.