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Junior College Report: NJCAA UPHEAVAL!

Another week of NJCAA Men’s Lacrosse and we get another week of excellent games, big early season upsets, and plenty of movement in the polls! We haven’t seen anything like this in the Junior College ranks in… maybe forever? I’ve been officially covering the NJCAA for a number of years now, and I followed it pretty closely before that, and I can’t remember a single season where we saw this many upsets, or this much movement in the polls, and it’s never happened this early in the season.

If there is a year to get on the NJCAA train, 2019 just may be that year.

First Things First Though…

Before we get to our continued celebration of the 2019 NJCAA season, I want to bring up a fellow NJCAA lacrosse player, and his family, because they need YOUR help.

Robert Gilman is a sophomore defender for the Anne Arundel CC men’s lacrosse team, and according to news making the rounds on social media, on Friday evening Robert and his family were in their car, and hit head on by an impaired driver.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family, and I think it would mean a lot, not only financially but also for our community, if every NJCAA men’s lacrosse team out there could rally together to help Robert and his family with a donation, whether it be large or small. The important thing is helping out however we can and showing the Gilmans that people around the country and world care about them.

I hope we can all rally and help the Gilman Family in their time of need.

NJCAA Top 10 Poll – 3/11/2019

# – Team (Record) – Poll points – 1st place votes – last poll rank

1– Nassau (3-1) – 60 – 6 – 1st
2 – Harford (1-1) – 49 – 0 – 3rd
3 – Howard (2-0) – 47 – 0 – 4th
3 – Essex (2-0) – 47 – 0 – 6th
5 – Genesee (0-1) – 34 – 0 – 2nd
6 – Onondaga (1-2) – 33 – 0 – 5th
7 – Anne Arundel (1-2) – 22 – 0 – 7th
8 – Suffolk (0-0) – 19 – 0 – 8th
9 – Mercer (2-2) – 13 – 0 – 10th
10 – Monroe (0-1) – 3 – 0 – 9th
10 – Hudson Valley (2-1) – 3 – 0 – 10th

Nassau stayed at #1, Harford and Howard moved up a spot each as Genesee fell 3 spots, and Essex moved up 3 spots for their win over Genesee. Onondaga dropped another spot to 6th, while Anne Arundel and Suffolk stayed put for another week. Mercer jumped up to 9th place, which is their highest Top 10 ranking ever (this is their first year, but still a cool note), and Monroe dropped to 10th, tied with Hudson Valley, who is back in the Top 10 for another week. Lots of movement, some new faces, and we’re still only in early March. I get the feeling it only gets better from here.

Recent NJCAA Results/Recaps

While there were not any games played last week between Monday and Friday, Saturday saw a ton of big games, and some surprising results. It gave us movement in the polls, and plenty to digest as we look forward into the rest of March.

Essex 14, Genesee 7 – I was pumping Essex’s tires early on this year, and they validated my praise with a huge win on the road over #2 GCC. I got to watch this game thanks to Genesee’s excellent video feed (which was free! Love it!) and Essex came out hot, scoring the first two goals of the game. Genesee evened it up at 2, and then Essex went on a run and looked really good doing so. Their defense is fast and physical and very solid one-on-one. Genesee struggled to generate good team looks in their first game of the year, and transition play really allowed Essex to shine. It was 7-2 at the half, 13-4 after three quarters, and Essex very much looked for real from start to finish in this one.

Nassau 12, Onondaga 4 – The last time these two teams played, it was for the 2018 national championship. Onondaga won that one, but the Lions of Nassau validated their 2019 new #1 ranking last week with a dominant win over the Lazers this past weekend. Nassau controlled the pace of the game, dictated how it would be played, and proved they can really lock down on D and limit chances. The first quarter saw some jitters, and Nassau was up 3-2, but in the second quarter the Lions turned up the heat, scoring 3 goals to OCC’s zero, and heading in to the break with a 4 goal lead, at 6-2. Five different players scored goals for Nassau with Justin Roderka’s 3 goals (and 2 assists) leading the way. The Nassau goalies split time in cage, and the real star of the show had to be the Nassau defense. What’s even more amazing about this group is that most of them are FRESHMEN. Another year for this group is scary! But let’s stay focused on 2019, ok Connor? Sorry I’m talking to myself, but impressive defensive efforts do that to a former college long pole.

Anne Arundel 14, Mercer 12 – AACC won the first and third quarters by two goals each, and Mercer won the other two quarters by 1 goal each, and the result was a pretty evenly matched, back-and-forth, exciting game. Connor Mackrell, Ethan Gaeng, and Caden Cote each had a hat trick for Anne Arundel and Cote added 4 assists for 7 total points. Greg Connelly got the win in goal, even though he only played one quarter, making 6 big saves on 10 shots in the 4th. Chris Greenstein won 17 of 25 face offs for AACC. Mercer was led by Brady Moore (3 goals, 1 assist) and Jack Earley (3 goals), but the team struggled on face offs, and got too many penalties with too few saves, to pull off the upset.

Howard 28, Monroe 7 – I was curious to see if Monroe was ready to make the jump up into the Top 5 area of the poll this year, but if the Howard result says anything, MCC may be a year off. Howard scored the first 4 goals of the game, led 8-2 at the end of the first quarter, and tacked on a 9-0 second quarter to make this one 17-2 at the half, and in the books. Monroe did win 24 of 36 face offs in the game, and Reed Perestram going 10 for 12 was a nice compliment to Tucker Hill’s 14 for 24 effort. Howard was led by Colvin Prosser’s 11 point day on 9 goals and 2 assists. Joe Montesano went for 4 goals and 2 assists, Jeremy Sforzo went for 4 and 1, and Jack Watsic also had 5 points on 2 goals and 3 assists. Cruz Mayberry led the way for Monroe with 3 goals. You want to see how it all went down? Howard crushes it with highlight videos, so here you go!

Hudson Valley 6, Ocean 4 – I thought this could be a really game, and it was, but I’ll be honest that I did not think this would turn into a defensive battle like it did. Both teams got a number of penalties in this one, but Ocean really hurt themselves with over 6 minutes on 12 different penalties. While HVCC did not covert on a lot of their man up chances, it did prevent Ocean from playing offense, and in a game where goals are hard to come by, every extra O set helps the cause. Face offs were even at 7 wins apiece, and each team had one player score a hat trick as Darren Nagy led HV and Gavin Murphy led Ocean. Ocean was up 2-0, and 3-2 at the half, but adjustments led to a strong 4-1 second half for HVCC (Hudson Valley scored 4 straight as well), and the Vikings pulled out the come from behind win.

It should be noted, there is a strong smell of sarcasm and fun to the HVCC instagram account. Don’t take it too seriously, or do, and then plaster it all over your locker room! These guys are having a little fun, and I appreciate the effort. They called Mercer “decent”, and then told PSC they are “on the clock”. This is just a little classic ribbing, but not over the top. Good stuff. Sports are supposed to be fun after all, right?

Union 17, Delaware Tech 9 – Union went up 6-4 after one quarter, and it looked like this might be a tight game, but then UC went on a 7-1 run in the second quarter, putting the game out reach. The teams traded 3-1 quarters in the second half, and Union walked away with an 8 goal win. Joe Stulec notched 5 goals, Evan Vecchia added 4 goals to go with an assist, and Greg Scaturo had a 6 point day on 3 goals and 3 helpers. Michael Yasco won 15 of 26 face offs, and 3 goalies saw time for Union, combing to make 14 saves. Wuilber Romero made 4 of those saves in just six minutes of action.

Mercer 17, Hudson Valley 7 – Both of these teams entered last week tied at 10th in the Top 10 poll, so this was going to be a heated game no matter what. Add in that Mercer has lost to AACC 14-12 the day before and that HVCC had beaten Ocean 6-4 the day before, and this game would also test both teams’ depth and mental toughness. Back to back games are tough, but I kind of love that both of these programs chose to play two games in two days to get the game in. Respect! Now when it comes to who won the day on the field, it was Mercer, and it happened early and often.

Mercer went up 5-0 before Hudson Valley scored their first goal of the game, with under 2 minutes left in the first quarter. A 3-0 second quarter put the margin at 8-1, and Mercer was able to cruise a little bit in the second half to win by 10. Hudson Valley had six goal scorers on their 7 goals, which showed good depth, and Mercer had 8 goal scorers, led by Isaac Lieboff’s 5 goals. Brady Moore had 4 goals and added 4 assists for 8 points for Mercer and MCC won 18 of 26 draws on the day.

Big Upcoming Games

Monday, March 11th
Potomac State vs Finger Lakes – I’m thinking this could be a good game, especially for a Monday! Who can show up ready to roll? Big test for both squads looking to earn some wins.
Brookdale vs Delaware Tech – See the above statement, same hold trues really!

Wednesday, March 13th
Ocean vs Union
– This game is always a grudge match, even though its history is not all that long! I like Ocean in this one, but Union can make a big statement with a win.
Tompkins Cortland vs Finger Lakes – I’ll take TC to win here, but there is the potential for an upset in this one. This is a great midweek game and very important for both teams as they look to move up in region.
Suffolk vs Morris – Suffolk is still a bit of an enigma right now, but we’ll start to learn more when they take on Morris, who is also a bit of an enigma. I’ll take Suffolk to win, as I think they may be on the right track this year.
Potomac State vs Hudson Valley – HV is pretty strong defensively, and PSC can put up goals, so this should be a really good battle as these teams match up strength to strength. If it’s high scoring PSC takes it, if it’s lower scoring, HV wins.
Brookdale vs Mercer – Mercer is slowly moving up the polls and I don’t see them slipping up here, but if Brookdale wants to make a statement, this is a great opportunity.
Genesee vs Monroe – GCC will be looking to be bounce back hard, and Monroe needs to do the exact same thing. GCC is still favored heavily, but when teams need wins, it can lead to great games, and anything can happen.

Saturday, March 16th
Ocean vs Finger Lakes
– Without seeing this week’s earlier results for both teams it’s really hard to say what will happen here, but early indications are that this could be a tight one.
Brookdale vs Harford – Harford has really moved up the polls quickly, the program is showing all sorts of new life, and this is the kind of game where they can dominate.
Tompkins Cortland vs Monroe – We will see how the Monroe/GCC game goes, but no matter what happens, MCC is a top 10 team when this game gets played. If TC wants a big early win and to enter the polls, this is a game they have to win.
Mercer vs Delaware Tech – Mercer is cruising along nicely and this is a game they should win comfortably.
Jefferson vs ASA – ASA has had a couple of games postponed, but it looks like this could be the first time we see them, which is exciting. Should be a manageable game back in the NJCAA against Jefferson, but this year I am not really sure about anything (which is fun!) so I’ll leave the door open here for Jefferson.

Sunday, March 17th
Union vs Potomac State
– Union is likely favored here, but not by much. This is a big “up/down” game in the middle tier where a big win can open people’s eyes to a new program.
Genesee vs Nassau – Nassau is going to be heavily favored in every game they play from here on out, but that sort of takes the pressure off other teams and it can let them play loose. If GCC just started slow (it happens sometimes), this could be a thriller. If Nassau is just as real as they look, maybe not.
Jefferson vs Suffolk – Back to back games for Jefferson and I’ll lean heavily towards Suffolk in this one.
Essex vs Brookdale – Essex has looked very real so far, and I don’t expect that to stop here. CCBC Essex is definitely back, and in a big way.
Howard vs Onondaga – Howard is the favorite here, and by a good margin. I feel insane just writing that, but based off of this year’s results it’s more than fair. OCC really needs a win here, Howard really, really wants a win here, and it should be pretty epic because how could it not be? Bummed you can’t watch it in person? Well… THERE IS A LIVESTREAM FOR THIS GAME! I yell when I get excited.

Here is the Howard vs Onondaga livestream link.

Obviously there are a ton of great games coming up, and we’re now entering the heart of the regular season where teams have practiced, played some games, and shaken off all the cobwebs. The big question moving forward is not who is good now, but who can GET BETTER over the next 4-5 weeks, and be in prime position to make a playoff run. Teams need to win games now to get there, so there is a balancing act to be done between wins and improvement at this point, but even the best teams right now won’t be the best teams in May if they don’t keep their noses to the grindstone.

As the weather warms, I’ll add in some additional articles and content pieces surrounding NJCAA men’s lacrosse that fall outside of the weekly Junior College Report. You keep playing and/or reading, and I’ll keep putting it out there.

Good luck to all the teams, and make sure you buckle down because the pace only quickens from here.