The regular season has been pounding away and it’s coming to a close quickly in the world of NJCAA men’s lacrosse. Teams are scrapping for wins and fighting for NJCAA playoff spots as the race to the finish heats up. We saw some important games played this past week, and have a couple of HUGE contests coming up. Then we get to “win or go home” territory, and the action ramps up yet another level.
We’ll kick things off with the Top Ten Poll, then look at where teams stand, and who can go deep into the postseason and NJCAA playoff picture. Last week I talked about Genesee’s statement win, but some other teams made a showing this past week, so I’ll talk about those games too!
NJCAA Top 10 Poll – April 16th, 2018
Poll Ranking) Team Name (Record, Total Poll Points, any 1st place votes, last week’s poll ranking)
1) Onondaga (11-0, 60, 6, 1)
2) Nassau (12-0, 54, 0, 2)
3) Genesee (8-2, 48, 0, 3)
4) Howard (8-2, 42, 0, 4)
5) Anne Arundel (8-3, 36, 0, 5)
6) Harford (5-4, 24, 0, 6)
6) Suffolk (9-1, 24, 0, 8)
8) Monroe (7-1, 22, 0, 7)
9) Delaware Tech (7-5, 11, 0, 9)
10) Tompkins Cortland (7-2, 6, 0, NR)
Also Receiving Votes: Essex (2-6, 1, 0, 9), Hudson Valley (7-3, 1, 0, NR)
While the Top 5 didn’t move, or even change their vote totals, Suffolk did bump up and they are now tied at 6th with Harford after the Owls suffered a couple of losses against top teams. Monroe got leapfrogged by Suffolk, Delaware Tech held firm at 9th going 1-1, and Tompkins Cortland made their way into the Top Ten for the first time this season. Essex dropped out of the Top Ten, and Hudson Valley got a vote, which is probably well deserved given their success, and a 10-7 loss to TC earlier in the year.
Meaningful Recent NJCAA Results
Howard 21, Harford 12 – April 11th – Howard put up big numbers to win this game, but I was definitely impressed by Harford’s ability to score as well. This game showed me that if Harford puts together a perfect game, they can beat Howard. But it also showed me that Howard is still the HEAVY favorite right now in this developing rivalry game. Howard will need to tighten things up to compete with some of the teams in the North when the NJCAA playoff and championships roll around, but all signs point to the Dragons being there, and representing the South.
Monroe 17, Mercyhurst NE 1 – April 11th – You might be asking why I’d put a 16-goal game on this list, but MNE is on the come up, and improving, and Monroe showed just how much they have improved already under Shaun Church, by absolutely dominating the scoreboard. I don’t value blowouts much more than comfortable wins, but this game shows that Monroe can really put the clamps on now, and if they want to hang with teams like OCC, that’s simply going to be a requirement. Can the Tribunes continue to make this quantum leaps of improvement? It’s worth watching to find out, and is great for NJCAA playoff lacrosse. Although MNE is on a different track, their trajectory also faces up. Look for this game to get more competitive, not less, in future years.
Delaware Tech 16, Union County 8 – April 11th – A solid win for a team that is now getting comfortable in the Top Ten, and that matters. When you’re a team in the Top Ten, especially on the lower end, teams outside of the group want a win against you. It’s a great opportunity for them, and they are going to give you their best shot. So to see DT continue to win, and beat teams they should by a comfortable margin, is a good thing for the program. Consistency is key to an NJCAA playoff push!
Tompkins Cortland 13, Herkimer 8 – April 14th – Tompkins Cortland got a solid win over Herk and this has really cemented them as the #4 team in Region 3, behind Onondaga, Genesee, and Monroe. The win also helped push them to 7-2 overall and 6-2 in Region 3, as well as into the Top Ten.
Jefferson 12, Mohawk Valley 9 – April 14th – This is Jefferson’s second win of the year, second win a row, second time they’ve won 12-9, AND the second time they’ve scored more than 7 goals all year. Great stuff from Jefferson, competing all the way after starting out 0-8.
Suffolk 16, Delaware Tech 4 – April 14th – Suffolk picked up an impressive Top Ten win over Delaware Tech, and this helped Suffolk make a jump in the polls. It’s also a statement win for Suffolk, and it shows they can put the ball away, and put in a consistent defensive effort for 4 quarters. Good stuff from Suffolk as they are now 9-1 overall with their only loss coming to Nassau.
Regional NJCAA Playoff Predictions
There are four Regions (3, 15, 19 , 20) in NJCAA lacrosse, however teams do not always need to win their Region to make the NJCAA playoffs. 5 automatic bids will be given out this year, and they are titled Districts A, B, C, D, and E. District A and B teams will come from Region 3. District C comes from Region 15. District D comes from Region 19, and District E comes from Region 20.
Region 3 – Right now the smart money is on Onondaga winning Region 3, and Genesee finishing second. If this is the scenario, both teams will make the playoffs as District champs. You may ask why Region 3 gets all this love, but with 11 teams, they are more than twice as big as any other Region, so it’s pretty clear they deserve another AQ spot. Also, there are 3 really good teams! The third team is Monroe, and the Tribunes make the Region 3 playoffs an EXTREMELY exciting event. Tompkins Cortland is the 4th team, and hugely improved, but I think their run ends here. I’m officially picking Onondaga and Genesee to move on, but I’m not counting out Monroe either. Nothing is locked here, but the Region 3 District selections will be top 4 seeds in the NJCAAs.
Region 15 – Nassau (12-0) and Suffolk (9-1) are both racking up wins like crazy, but Nassau earned a dominant win over Suffolk earlier this year, and with the Region 15 Championship scheduled for April 28th in Garden City, I see the Lions as a clear cut NJCAA tourney team. Nassau is going as the District C champ, and it’s not a knock on Suffolk at all. Nassau is just that good and will likely be a #2 seed in the NJCAAs.
Region 19 – Delaware Tech looks like the favorite to take Region 19 this year. While Ocean County gave them a tough 13-12 game during the regular season, Delaware Tech is still the favorite here, but it’s far from settled science. Watch Region 19 for potential surprises, but don’t be surprised to see the Region 19 winner play as the 6 seed in the NJCAA playoffs.
Region 20 – Howard looks like a lock to take the Region 20, and District E automatic qualifier. Anne Arundel and Harford are looking to challenge, but it looks like the Howard Dragons will be the Southern most team in the NJCAA playoffs this year.
At-Large Bid – There will also be an at-large team, that doesn’t win their Region or District, and for me it’s looking like Anne Arundel, Harford, Suffolk, and Monroe all have a legitimate shot at this. At the very least a legitimate argument can be made for all four of them at this point.
Suffolk will play Harford on April 21st, which becomes a HUGE game both teams. The loser will have no shot at getting the bid, but the winner gets a huge head-to-head victory on their resume. Monroe has not, and will not, play any of the 3 teams in 2018. Anne Arundel beat Harford 8-2, which will help them out greatly, but they don’t play the other two teams.
I’ll pick Anne Arundel as the at-large bid winner, due to their Harford win, their solid results, and difficult strength of schedule. Look for them at-large to slot in at the 5 seed for the NJCAAs this year.
Basically, you can just about guarantee that at least ONE team is going to finish with a very good record, a big head to head win over another team in this group, and they will be staying home. It’s tough to see quality teams left out, but each of these teams still controls their own destiny (win your District!!!!), and that’s just part of the game. Win or go home – NJCAA playoff season is here!
Fun NJCAA Stuff
Credit where credit is due.
— Hudl (@Hudl) April 15, 2018
Looper Pass Alert! Love these…
Ok, until next week, keep balling and get ready for NJCAA playoff madness! Should we do NJCAA playoff brackets? Yay or nay?