by Andrew Garda
WEST CALDWELL—After a big win over No. 12-seeded Nutley in the first round, the No. 5-seeded Montclair High School boys lacrosse team struggled offensively against 4-seeded Caldwell, and fell 7-3 on Tuesday, April 30.
“I thought our defense played really well, limiting them to four goals throughout three quarters,” said MHS head coach Mike Diehl. “And then it kind of fell apart in the fourth quarter. We needed to be a little more aggressive and come up with the ball. I thought our faceoff play could have been a lot better, and I thought our offensive play could have been a lot better.”
Caldwell and Montclair were evenly matched through the first half, with the two teams trading the lead back and forth before Caldwell took the lead with 6:17 to go in the period.
Tyler Fullerton scored the first goal of the game for the Mounties with just 39 seconds left in the first quarter and then Jeikson Boyle gave Montclair the lead in the opening minute of the second quarter.
However, Caldwell responded with a shot from 20 yards out, which beat goaltender Drew Skibniewski to tie things up, and then took the lead a short time later.
The second half had barely begun when Caldwell added to their lead, scoring with 10:59 left in the third quarter to make it 4-2.
Things went downhill from there.
Caldwell scored four goals during the second half, while Montclair only managed one. While they had chances—the Mounties rang one shot off a post and another off the Caldwell goalie’s head—they couldn’t find the back of the net until the final minute. More often than not the team turned the ball over, dropping passes, missing throws and losing control of the ball to a tenacious Caldwell defense.
Another factor was the minimal availability of Will Schiffenhaus, who was still feeling the aftereffects of an illness.
For Diehl, that was no excuse.
“Will Schiffenhaus was out with the flu, so that was why he was in and out of the game,” he said. “But in my opinion, that’s really no excuse as to why the offense could not have performed better.”
Another issue in the latter portion of the game was a string of bad penalties. The Mounties continually shot themselves in the foot by ending up a man—or sometimes two—down, and Caldwell repeatedly took advantage.
“That’s something we’ve been working on throughout the season, consistency, staying out of the penalty box,” Diehl said. “At times we’re a little undisciplined and it turns out for the worst for us in games.”
That certainly was the case Tuesday afternoon, and it made the defense and goalie’s job much harder. Skibniewski did as much as he could, making several spectacular saves, but he could only do so much with a man down.
Still, had the offense been able to generate goals, Skibniewski’s efforts might have been enough. Montclair averages just under nine goals a game and of their seven losses, six came when they failed to reach that mark.
Now the Mounties have some time off before the NJSIAA Tournament starts. Diehl said they might add a game this weekend, but the only one scheduled is next Tuesday, May 7, at home against Glen Rock for Senior Day.
MKA BOYS LOSE ONE
The Montclair Kimberley Academy boys lacrosse team was in action as well Tuesday, April 30. The No. 6-seeded Cougars fought hard and pushed the No. 3-seeded West Essex Knights, falling in the final quarter 13-10.
The Cougars scoring was led by Jake Waldman, who had five goals and an assist for a total of six points. Dylan Hall scored twice and had three assists, with OB Sedransk, Zach Kirsch and Rollins Heath each scoring once and Christian Breitweiser gaining one assist.
Freshman goalie Jake Pryor had 12 saves in the loss.