The 2018 NJCAA lacrosse season is only a couple months away, and I’m LOVING how this year is shaping up already. There is a TON of talent, some 2017 scores to be settled, and a good number of teams who could be considered contenders. Are there favorites to take home the hardware? There are ALWAYS favorites! But until it’s all said and done, being a favorite doesn’t mean all that much.
The 2018 NJCAA season is rapidly approaching, so let’s set some early expectations!
2017 NJCAA Quick Recap
In case you forgot where everyone ended up last year, Onondaga won the title in a super tight and exciting game with Howard. It was a back and forth 15-14 game, Howard was up 6-2 early on, and it was an absolutely amazing way to cap off the entire 2017 spring. OCC finished at 15-0, and Howard finished at 16-2. Not bad!
Did you miss the game? DO NOT DESPAIR!
Here are FIFTEEN minutes of highlights via Howard CC’s media department. These guys are doing AMAZING video work!
The semifinal games leading up to the final were also pretty electric, with OCC scoring 21 goals to beat Nassau by 11, and Howard beating Genesee, 14-13, in an absolute thriller for the ages.
More video? More video.
In addition to the 4 teams listed above, Anne Arundel, Essex, Harford, and Ocean each won 10 games or more, while Ancilla, Frederick, Monroe, TC3, and Hudson Valley all finished with winning records. I’m very interested to see how some of these programs progress over the next 2-3 years. Ocean County, for example, has great facilities, an impressive coaching staff and plenty of local talent to attract. Can they make the jump to the next level and start contending soon? OC is not alone, so we shall see, and I’ll enjoy watching every minute.
2018 NJCAA Lacrosse – Early Look Forward
Other than the fact that it’s great college lacrosse, what I love most about the last couple seasons of NJCAA lacrosse is the slow creep of parity. For a while there it looked like no one could really compete with Onondaga, and while they’re still the class of the JuCo ranks, they are not alone anymore. Howard has really come up strong down South, and I see no signs of them slowing down. HCC is building a serious program, intent on long-term success. It’s GREAT for the game. But Howard is far from the only team making waves.
In 2016, we saw Genesee win their first title ever, after only a decade of existence as a program.
Nassau got a new coach recently and that program is changing again, and for the better. Coach Powers and Coach Speckman are amazing coaches, there is no doubt about it, but coach Savage is doing great things for the Lions of NCC. Add in other traditional power schools like Anne Arundel or Essex, and newer power programs like Harford and you have the foundation for something special. If schools like Ocean, Union, and Southern Maryland can continue to improve, the NJCAA only gets better from top to bottom, and that is good for everyone.
2016 and 2017 both showed us that anything is possible, and I can’t wait for the 2018 NJCAA lacrosse season!
2018 Onondaga Preview (and some gear!)
Listen, before you blast for me talking about OCC so much, when you win the national championship the year before, you earn certain honors, and one of those honors is that you are the first team I will talk about in the JuCo Report. That’s just how it goes! Future JuCo Reports will focus on other programs, so don’t fret, we will get there!
Now, on to OCC… here are their 2017 championship rings. Nice!
Onondaga has some fresher faces on the defensive side of the field, and those newer players will need to step up as they step in to starting, or increased, roles. A lot of these positions are likely still up for grabs to a certain extent. With all the talent and depth at OCC the competition is always fierce. Coach Wilbur likes this group in general right now, and I believe they have the potential (as they gel) to match up to the 2017 OCC defense, which is scary.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here because until this defense proves itself, it is still unproven. That’s not a knock, it’s just reality! I did hear that the D looked solid against very good RIT and Cortland teams in fall ball action, and that bodes well for the spring season. When you have guys like Jerry Staats, Austin Robinson, and Jake Corcoran on the roster it’s simply not going to be bad. Those kids can ball! Add in some valuable experience and talent at LSM from a guy like PJ Delpha and I’m even less concerned. Ok, the OCC D is going to be good. AGAIN. Not a shocker. I came around quickly.
GEAR BREAK! Before we get to the offense, let’s show off some OCC gear. For a couple years, Onondaga was an Under Armour team, but this year they’ve made the move to Nike and TBL. From TBL cleats and turfs to Nike gear from head to toe, OCC is decked out in some seriously top notch apparel, and this is only the fall and practice stuff!
As far as I know, they will also be the ONLY college team in the country wearing these TBL shoes as a team. That’s a pretty honor cool for an NJCAA team! And now I have footwear jealously issues. Great.
Ok, back to the actual lacrosse talk!
When it comes to offense, Onondaga is loaded. No, wait… they’re LOADED. It needed to be capitalized. The talent is ridiculous. Austin Staats, James Sexton, Russ Oakes, Jason Tebo, Peter Kwas, Zach Pierce, and Terrance Haggerty all return. Each of these guys has D1 potential (or high D3 like Haggerty – Cortland) written all over them, and each of them contributed big time last year. Add in a freshman like Brook Rideau who will likely play D1 lacrosse in a couple seasons and you have an athletic, talented group that will score with the very best of them.
OCC also has returners for face offs, and I don’t expect them to skip a step here. With depth and talent all over, OCC is loaded up for a successful 2018 campaign, and look like favorites once again. I would not be surprised one bit to be talking about a number of other players on the OCC roster as the season rolls on. There are guys there just waiting for their chance, so as usual, Onondaga is a team to watch.
As we get through other teams, you’ll start to see how programs stack up, and who is looking good early on. Remember, it’s still VERY early, so nothing is settled and we’ll have to wait until the spring to see it all play out. In the meantime, I will be talking JuCo lacrosse more and more. So get jazzed. It’s all happening!
If you want YOUR program showcased as I talk about 2018 NJCAA Lacrosse, I’d love to do it! Contact me at Connor@LacrosseAllStars.com to provide info, photos, videos, etc! I’m always looking for more great NJCAA lacrosse content to share!