CCBC Essex mens lax readies for Nassau showdown
Last spring the CCBC Essex men’s lacrosse team outlasted Nassau Community College in a thrilling NJCAA national semifinal game.
Nassau returns to Essex on Saturday — and the Lions are bringing the nation’s top ranking with them.
Nassau earned the No. 1 ranking in the NJCAA poll when it knocked off seventime defending NJCAA national champion Onondaga earlier this month, 10-9. That snapped the Lazers’ 107-game winning streak.
The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Essex (8-1) is currently ranked third in the NJCAA. The Knights’ only loss was at Onondaga on March 19, 13-11.
“We outshot Onondaga and had more possessions,” Essex coach Shawn Burke said. “We blew a couple of clears late in the game and it cost us a couple of goals. But I feel we match up well with them in talent.”
Before playing Nassau this week, however, Essex also had to host ninth-ranked Monroe Community College. That game was played on Tuesday after the Avenue News went to press.
“We look forward to having a couple of teams from New York come down here this week,” Burke said. “The guys are excited, but at the end of the day, you have to beat the same teams at the end of the year.”
By that, Burke means Essex will likely see Monroe, Nassau and Onondaga at some point in the postseason.
“There is seeding in the national tournament at stake,” Burke said. “Other than that, there’s not a whole lot of significance in these games.”
The Monroe and Nassau games do figure to give the Knights more of a challenge than there most recent win, a 31-2 pounding of visiting Cecil County on Saturday.
Essex had 27 goals by early in the third quarter. The Knights played their second and third teams throughout the second half.
DeAngelo Watkins finished with six goals. Raphael Vargas scored four goals, while Dylan McCleaft, Dylan Riley and Tim Roeseler each had three.
The 14-10 win at Harford County on March 22 was a bit more competitive.
Essex led 7-5 at the half behind four goals by Bran- don O’Connell.
Harford County was within 9-8 late in the third quarter, but goals by James case and O’Connell allowed Essex to take an 11-8 lead into the fourth quarter.
Mike Cooke’s third and fourth goals of the game again cut Essex’s lead to one, 11-10, with 8:24 remaining.
But the Knights shut out Harford the rest of the way, while extending their lead with goals by Derek Taylor, Vargas and Nolan.
O’Connell finished with five goals, while Vargas, Nolan and Taylor each had two.
“We have to tighten up our clearance game a little bit,” Burke said. “It’s kind of a focus thing. That will really benefit us.”
John Williamson of CCBC Essex gets shoved by a Cecil County defender.
DeAngelo Watkins of CCBC Essex scored six goals during the win over Cecil County on Saturday.