Making sure their defense is a strong point will be critical to Montclair’s success this year, as the team generates many of its offensive chances by way of the defense.

by Andrew Garda

Now that its year-long layoff has come to an end, the Montclair High School girls lacrosse team has hit the field after the COVID-19 shutdown, and head coach Kimberly Kolodny is working hard to get her team sharp. 

Part of that is reminding them of what was lost in 2020.

“Before we really, truly get into our drills, we bring it in and we always mention that we’re just thankful and grateful to be back out there and how easily it was taken away from us,” Kolodny said. 

The Mounties are taking a day-by-day approach both to maintain focus in the event of a cancellation, such as Friday’s game against Livingston, which had a positive COVID-19 test, and to make sure they don’t get caught looking ahead at the schedule. 

MHS is also trying to be smart off the field, to avoid things like what Livingston is dealing with.

“We’re just happy to be out there with our teammates, and we know how devastating it was to lose [the season] last year,” Kolodny said. “So we’re not taking a single second for granted.”

The opportunity for a very successful season is there for the taking. 

While the Mounties currently sit with a 1-3 record, the losses to Ridgewood, Westfield and Mendham were all one goal losses which could have easily swung Montclair’s way.

It’s clear MHS has the offensive firepower to get the job done, too, as evidenced by its 18-2 dismantling of Morris Knolls on Saturday, April 24, a game Kolodny picked up late to replace the Livingston game.

MHS has done all of this on the road as well, as after Livingston was canceled the first home game will be today, April 29, against Mountain Lakes.

The Mounties are going to be relying on their seniors to help stabilize the team this year, starting with Nikki Genovese and Sydney Topf on defense, along with junior Sabrina Martin, who is already committed to Temple. Junior Lauren Morganlander is also going to be a factor this season.

Emily Crane, who is committed to Gettysburg, and Katie Giordano, who will be at Colorado, are two other senior captains the team will lean on.

Giordano and Crane come from the Montclair girls soccer team, which took a state title last fall, and that experience is something Kolodny thinks will transfer to the lacrosse team, as will the dedication they bring as multisport athletes.

“They’re phenomenal, and I’ve been a multisport athlete myself throughout my entire life. You learn so much from the coaching staff on other teams and just the overall camaraderie of different teams and different skills that apply to it,” the coach said. “So them being multisport athletes and, on top of that, coming to our season off of the success that they’ve had for soccer, you couldn’t ask for more.”

MHS head girls lacrosse coach Kimberly Kolodny is looking for her seniors and experienced players to lead the way as the Mounties get back on the field after last season was shut down by COVID-19.

One of the most interesting aspects of the team is who’s in the net. MHS has three goalies, and all three are new to both the position and the sport. 

Sofia Bari, Isabel Ginns and Talia Cohen-Vigder are all in the mix, and had last season gone the way it should have, would have all had experience. 

As it stands, each is working hard and learning every day, making great strides in their games.

Cohen-Vigder was the starter the first three games and did very well, allowing 18 goals while saving 24. She struggled a bit more, along with the defense, in the 14-13 loss to Mendham, a back and forth game that stayed tight.

Kolodny isn’t shy about changing that up if she needs to and riding the hot hand in net. One thing that MHS is focusing on is a strong defense, from the goalie on outwards.

“It starts with the defense,” the coach said. “There’s a saying that offense or attack wins games, defense wins championships. It all starts down there. So, if we get that ball from our goalie out towards our defense and all the way up the field to our midfielders and attackers, it all started with our goalie.”