Holy Smokes, the JuCo Report is back just in time to talk about Final Four glory, and some of the other top stories from the last two weeks. I got selfish, and went to Prague to play box lacrosse, so I didn’t write any posts about the NJCAA, or anything really. Except that the 2018 world games will now be held in Israel. My carpal tunnel is gone, but I’m bruised and battered. For that, I am not sorry. Prague was unreal. I recommend it to ALL of you at some point in your lacrosse careers!
Ok, so before I hit you with any NJCAA info, I’m going to ask you to watch a video. You’ll thank me afterwards.
See you in Prague?
Ok, now back to the JuCo stuff! There’s so much to talk about. Where do I even start?
Saturday’s Final Four Glory Games
Tomorrow we have two amazing games on tap, but with crazy weather who knows what will happen, or if they will even be played. I could see some delays to Sunday. Either way, we’re getting amazing lacrosse.
Game #1 – Onondaga Vs Nassau – This semifinal game is a rematch from earlier in the season where OCC topped NCC 16-13 up in Syracuse’s Carrier Dome. Nassau has improved since then, but so has Onondaga, and now that Austin Staats is healthy, the Lazers present a truly challenging match up for anyone. Staats’ play opens up other players, shifts focus, and the young man can score whenever he really wants to. I like OCC to win this one, and I think it could be one heck of a game, but in the end I think Staats will be the difference maker.
OCC beat TC3 in their last game 33-5, and Nassau took down Anne Arundel 15-3. Nassau wants to keep this game under 13 goals per team. OCC wants to get into a shootout. Whose game plan wins out? We’ll find out for sure this weekend.
Game #2 – Howard Vs Genesee – GCC beat Monroe 16-11 on April 29th, but a more important game was played on April 8th, when Genesee beat Howard 11-9. This game was played at Howard, and it makes Genesee the clear cut favorite in this game, but not by a very wide margin. Howard has been flying since that loss racking up 7 straight wins, and their closes margin being 7 goals. It’s really hard to count either team as “out” at this point.
I like Genesee in this game for a couple reasons: 1) they are playing at home 2) they won a title last year and have guys with final four glory experience 3) they won the regular season match up 4) they have lost games, so they know what it feels like. Howard has been really rolling along though, and their 23-6 dismantling of Ocean County last week means something.
If I’m correct, GCC vs OCC in the finals should be a great match up. If I’m wrong on either count (or both), we STILL get a great final game, because both Nassau and Howard are very talented and fun teams to watch, with a legit shot at taking the title.
4 good teams and lots of question marks? I’m all for it!
My Team of the Year – FLCC
Usually you reserve your “team of the year” award for the actual end of the season, and more often than not it goes to a team that wins a title, or far surpasses expectations. Finger Lakes CC went 5-8 in 2017, so they seem like a bizarre choice, but if you’ve been paying attention this year, you know they’re a perfect choice.
FLCC started the year with a thin roster. After a couple injuries their numbers dropped further, and I first caught win of their struggles when I saw a photo of 14 guys warming up for a game. Another injury and they were down to a baker’s dozen, and then a true dozen. Anymore injuries and they’d be a dirty dozen. Things were looking grim. At least from the outside.
Inside the program, the FLCC guys rallied around their “iron man” situation. While I was just focused on them finishing the season, they were talking about how to get into the Top 10, and maybe even make the NJCAA playoffs. Was it a case of shooting for the stars? Perhaps, but the team did end up landing on the moon!
FLCC was 4- 3 on April 14th, and while things looked solid, you could tell their true test was coming. They played 6 games in 11 days between the 15th and the 26th, and while they dropped 5 of those contests, they only lost two by more than 5 goals (to OCC and GCC), and were competitive in many of the games, even beating Herkimer 15-12. They also played Monroe tighter at the end of the season than they did at the beginning, improving their loss on the scoreboard from 14-9 to 12-10.
This might not seem like a big deal to you, but if that’s the case, you’re probably just not aware of how hard it is to make it in NJCAA lacrosse. Programs are underfunded, players can come and go, and the league doesn’t get the same spotlight that other leagues get. It would have been EASY for FLCC to just give up on their season, pack it in, and plan for 2018, but they competed. They fought. They gave it their all and never sold themselves short. When they lost, they dealt with it like men.
Finger Lakes may have finished 5-8 in 2017 and may be missing out on final four glory, but this season was a huge success for the 12-15 men on that roster and their staff. Well done to the Lakers!
Many teams battled adversity, or made huge strides as a program. It was a GREAT year for growth and improvement. FLCC is just the example I’m choosing, but each and every NJCAA player should feel an sense of accomplishment for being part of this season, and for honoring those who played before you.
Howard Vs Anne Arundel Video
Want to see more of Howard? No problem!
Howard Women BONUS!
I’ll leave you with a very cool note – Howard’s men and women are both in the final four in 2017. This is the first time this has happened for the school, and it’s worth shouting out an institution that is seeing success with both their men and women. Well done, Howard CC!!!!