MKA edges Pingry for Non-Public B crown
Montclair Kimberley Academy players and coaches all said they'd known feisty, talented Pingry too well to think otherwise. No matter what kind of lead it happened to hold in the fourth quarter, Pingry was going to push back.
So, Matt Lane simply put it upon himself to make sure that when it came to such pushes, his was going to be the last.
The junior attackman muscled his way past two defenders to give his team a two-goal edge with 2:24 remaining and teammate Craig Schweitzer made three tough saves after that as they lifted second-seeded MKA to a 9-7 victory for its first NJSIAA Non-Public A championship Wednesday night at Brooks Field in Somerville.
"Every time we've played them they always make a run," MKA head coach Paul Edwards said. "When he played them earlier in the season (11-5 Pingry win), they made a run in the third quarter. We play them close, they pull away and we sort of lose our composure a little bit."
Mark Phillips netted three goals and added two assists, Kyle Morris scored three times and Lane collected two goals and two assists as MKA (17-4) avenged that loss to Pingry (11-8) and also won for the 10th time in the last 11 game.
Lane had one goal and two assists in that first meeting, but none of those points carried quite the same swagger and import as his second goal in this title game. Montclair Kimberley will be seeded sixth for the Tournament of Champions and play Delbarton in the quarterfinals on Saturday at Bridgewater-Raritan.
Pingry got a goal from J.C. Sorenson with 4:00 to play to pull to within 8-6, and one from Dylan Key on an extra-man opportunity with 2:50 left to edge to within one. Pingry won the faceoff, but MKA retrieved it soon after and Lane made his move.
He charged toward the cage from the left flank, slammed head-on into a double team, but somehow mustered the strength to unload a shot and bump the Cougars' lead back to two.
"We knew they were going to make a run at some point," Lane said. "In the fourth quarter, I think everyone just felt the momentum shifting a little bit (toward Pingry). When I scored my goal, I guess it was just the retaliation that said this is not going to happen. This is our day."
Montclair Kimberley was whistled for an unsportsmanlike penalty on the scoring play, leaving it man-down for the next minute. But Schweitzer rejected two excellent shots during the EMO and halted another just after the EMO expired with 1:24 left.
"That's Craig. He has been very huge for us this season," Phillips said. "He's been so clutch at the end of the game for us, and he knew to get the ball downfield after he made those saves,"
Schweitzer made six of his 13 saves in that final period, which showed, of course, his skill, but also that Edwards and the others were warranted for their deep concerns about Pingry. Big Blue took a number of quality shots that might have skipped through against a lesser goalie.
"He made some remarkable saves," Edwards said. "He made three down there and he came out and intercepted a pass on extra man. That's just him being an athlete."
Schweitzer's interception triggered a scoring opportunity that Phillips converted off a pass from Tommy Fusco 4:35 into the fourth for a 7-5 lead. Morris connected 1:00 later for off a feed by Cameron Brazill (one goals, two assists), but Sorenson and Key each followed over the next 3:25 to make it an 8-7 game.
Pingry had tied the game only once, at 2-2, when Will Kelly knocked in a feed by Justin Gump with 5:53 left in the second quarter. Morris brought the lead back to two goals just 1:40 later when he banged in a pass by Phillips.
Pingry cut the lead to 5-4 on one of Chris Albanese's three goals with 3:01 to go in the third quarter, but again MKA responded quickly. Brazil scored off a pass by Phillips.
"I think that says we're pretty resilient," Phillips said. "We know when to fight back. That's been our motto all year since we lost to Trinty-Pawling (16-3 on April 15). We had a talk on the hill behind the field after that and said we never want to feel that way again."
Pingry goalie Alex Castle finished with seven saves, including three in the second quarter to help Big Blue stay to within two goals. He turned away 14 shots in the first game against MKA, but this time the Cougars ran a crisper zone offense that created more difficult shots for Castle.
"He's very good, but we were able to find some open seams," Phillips said. "We went over our zone offenses more for this game and we were ready. We played against their (MKA scout) their defense all week in practice and we just knew where to cut."
Mike Kinney covers boys lacrosse for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeKinneyHS