by Andrew Garda
It’s been a crazy senior year for Montclair High School lacrosse captain Katie Giordano.
First, she was a member of the 2020 MHS girls soccer state championship team, a group that had just one loss over the course of two seasons. Then she committed to play lacrosse at the University of Colorado. Of course, she and the rest of her lacrosse team found out that they would be able to have a spring season, something that was in doubt after losing the 2020 season.
Now Giordano has crossed a huge threshold in her career as a Mountie, marking her 100th point in the 9-6 win over Immaculate Heart on May 4.
For Giordano, things are only just kicking into gear for the Mounties.
“We’re definitely getting better every day,” she said after a recent practice. “Our coaches really focus on drills, and everything we do within practice is based off the next team we’re going to play or what we really need to work on. We’re never just going through the motions in practice.”
It’s been a bit of an up-and-down season for Montclair (3-5, 2-1 NJIGLL), with some big wins over teams like Morris Knolls and Mountain Lakes and a host of one-goal losses as well.
In fact, four of Montclair’s five losses have been by one goal.
“We have so much potential and a great group of girls this year, and the games haven’t necessarily been going our way, so our record doesn’t look great,” she said. “But we’ve been in all these games and put up a good fight, and a bunch of them against like really top teams in the state. So, that’s a big plus, even though we haven’t come through with a win.”
Giordano said the team hit the field with a lot of energy this year and was anxious to get going off the long layoff.
“I think there was definitely a sense of urgency, especially going through so much just like everyone else,” she said. “Wanting to get on the field so badly. This is what we all live for, our high school sports. We practiced all winter and we went into it not flat-footed, not taking it for granted at all, taking it day by day and definitely being appreciative that we were just allowed out here.”
Part of the intensity Giordano brought to the off-season came from her experience on the soccer team during its championship run. She and fellow senior soccer player Emily Crane tried to bring the same focus they had in the fall to the winter and spring lacrosse practices.
“I’ve played soccer and lacrosse my whole life, and to me, I just try to take what I learned from one and apply it to the other because I just see a lot of similarities,” Giordano said. “I just try to piggyback off of what I did in my other seasons and use it to my advantage, to make me different from other players, different from my opponents. Soccer season was like the most amazing thing ever. We won so much, and it was an amazing team and we all like really held each other accountable.”
Holding her teammates accountable is one of the biggest responsibilities Giordano and the other captains have this season. One misstep or bad decision can result in a positive COVID-19 test and cost the team two precious weeks of the season, perhaps resulting in missing a tournament berth.
The soccer team was incredibly focused, and Giordano said she brought that mentality with her to lacrosse.
“I just really think soccer season has given me an understanding of what it means to not work only for yourself, but for your teammates and to really push yourself in that sense,” she explained. “It’s not about you. It’s for the win, it’s for the team. And that soccer season I think is really what helped me understand about putting your body on the line and really putting up a good fight and learning how to push myself.”
Pushing herself also led to her heading out west to Colorado to continue both her education and lacrosse career.
Giordano said the 1,700 miles between Montclair and the University of Colorado doesn’t intimidate her.
“I don’t know if it’s that it hasn’t hit me yet, but I’m just not really nervous at all,” she said. “I have an older sister who has traveled a lot so far after she’s graduated college, and she actually recently moved out to Utah. She’s just helped me realize that I shouldn’t feel like I need to be stuck anywhere.”
Her sister showed Giordano that it isn’t a big deal to move far away, and even way out in Colorado, she’s not far from family if she needs them.
Colorado hadn’t been on her list when she began the process of looking to play in college until the school reached out to her the moment NCAA rules said it could.
“Completely out of the blue,” she recalled. “On September 1st at 12 a.m. they texted me, and I was honestly surprised because they had never been on my radar before, and I was so interested. I started looking into the school and I started talking to the coach, and I was like, wow. My mom had told me to go where you feel loved the most, not just somewhere you feel like you’re chasing. When I went out on my visit, my junior year in, I think, October, I just felt the love so much.”
Giordano said the team chemistry and overall vibe of the team, along with the coaching staff, felt like family, so in the end, the decision was easy.
“I knew, I knew right away after my visit, I was like, this is definitely the place for me,” she said. “It was just a very loving environment. And I really wanted to be a part of their team.”
Before she heads to Colorado, though, Giordano has some unfinished business with her fellow Mounties, and as much as the Colorado program feels like family, finishing her MHS career is something very important to her.
“These are the people you played your whole life with,” she said. “Since you were little. It’s why high school sports are so important. I’m sure college sports will be great, but it’s not going to be like this.”