Stockton, CLC
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Montclair St, Kean, Advance in First Ever Coastal Lacrosse Conference Tournament

Coastal Lacrosse Conference Inaugural Season

The Coastal Lacrosse Conference (CLC) successfully wrapped up its inaugural regular season this past week. The CLC will now enters its first ever conference postseason tournament, which began Tuesday night. The two first round matchups of the CLC tournament were hosted right here in New Jersey by Montclair State and Stockton University. 

Three teams from the NJAC men's lacrosse conference combined with three Coast-to-Coast Lacrosse teams, which announced its formation back in June 2022. Unfortunately, this conference tournament will not earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Men’s Lacrosse Tournament until 2025 due to the new formation. 

This does not exactly mean any of the six of the CLC lacrosse teams will miss out on a chance of making the NCAA tournament. The CLC features two of the top Division III programs in Salisbury University (16-1) and Christopher Newport University (15-1). The Salisbury Seagulls (16-1) dominated the CLC in the regular season, as they are currently ranked number two in the nation for Division III lacrosse. CNU is right behind Salisbury currently ranked number four, their only loss came to Salisbury back in early April falling 16-8.

Each winner of these two first round matchups would find themselves facing Salisbury and CNU, who both earned a first round bye after finishing first and second in the CLC. Both first round matchups were exciting high scoring games as each team hoped to advance in the CLC first ever postseason tournament. The first matchup was the Montclair State Red Hawks (11-7) who hosted the University of Mary Washington (7-12). Later in the night we saw two New Jersey natives square off, as the Stockton Ospreys (12-6) hosted the Kean Cougars (11-7). 

#4 Montclair State v.s. #5 University of Mary Washington

Montclair State outscored UMW 11-4 in the second half to advance in the CLC Tournament, with a final score of 18-14. Montclair was led by the McCreery brothers who combined for 10 total points in their win over UMW. Tyler McCreery finished with three goals and three assists while his brother, Mike, finished with two goals and two assists.

In the first quarter, Montclair and UMW traded goals back and forth. Tied at 4-4 with 6:29 remaining, Michael Seraphin-Jon and Garrett Keogh earned themselves a goal apiece to give UMW 6-4 heading into the second quarter. J.D Nozemack would fire in two goals in the opening minutes of the second quarter, continuing to expand UMW leads to 8-4.

The senior attackman outscored Montclair in the second quarter, scoring four of his seven goals on the night. Graduate student Matt Dancsecs ignited a spark in the final minute of the first half. Dancsecs capitalized on the man-up opportunity, with 52 seconds remaining as he fired in a bounce shot from 15-yards out to score. Twenty seconds later, Dancsecs fired a shot from the same exact spot as he did moments before and these two goals helped decrease UMW's lead to 9-7.

The second half was all Montclair, which guided them to advance to the semi-final round of the CLC tournament. Tyler McCreery would score in the first 30 seconds of the second half, assisted by his brother Mike McCreery. Montclair would score four straight goals in the middle of the third quarter and tie things up for the first time since it was 4-4 in the first quarter. 

With all things squared heading into the final quarter of this playoff matchup, it was going to be interesting to see who would  go on to advance and  play top-seeded Salisbury University. Montclair would go ahead and dominate the fourth quarter. 

They would once again score four straight goals. With one quarter remaining and the end of the season on the line, this balanced Montclair offense showed out. Four different players found the next during this four-goal stretch and Montclair would outscore UMW 5-1 in the fourth. 

With a 18-14 victory over UMW, Montclair will once again face one of the best teams in the nation. Montclair was dominated by Salisbury in their first ever CLC game, losing 27-7 on their home turf back on March 21st.  They will now travel down to Maryland on Friday in hopes to earn a berth in the first ever CLC Championship.

#3 Stockton University v.s. #6 Kean University

On the other side of the bracket of the first round was between two New Jersey rivals. The Kean Cougars were on the hunt for their first CLC victory in program history, as they traveled south to Stockton, New Jersey to face the Ospreys. Just three weeks ago, Stockton defeated Kean on their home turf with a final of 14-12. With elimination on the line, both teams knew that this would be a physical battle in hopes to advance to the semi-final round of the CLC tournament. 

Sophomore attackman Nick Throne would go on to score the game-winning goal for Kean with 2:56 left to play, giving Kean the 15-14 victory. Throne would finish with five goals and help the Cougars advance and capture their first ever victory in a CLC game. 

Sean Haddock would score the first goal of the night in the first 45 seconds of the game, which gave Stockton the early 1-0 lead. Kean would answer back with two goals of their own, and things would be all squared at five a piece, heading into the second quarter. 

Reegan Capozzoli led Stockton in the second quarter, capturing two out of his three goals. Stockton would outscore Kean 5-2 in the second quarter and give them a three-goal lead as the first half came to an end. Kean knew their season was on the line and would continue to clash in this dogfight between two conference rivals. 

Stockton would strike first in the second half as Noam Levy-Smith hit the back of the net, giving Stockton their biggest lead of the night at 11-7. Kean would go on to score four straight, thanks to two Throne goals. With the game tied at 11-11 now, things would get interesting in the final quarter of this playoff matchup. 

Brendan McHale would score on an unassisted goal and Stockton would find themselves up two goals with only 12 minutes remaining in the game. Kean’s Connor Batjer and Jonathan Slusser would each earn themselves a goal in the fourth quarter to tie this intense game with only 10 minutes remaining. 

Stockton would collect their lead back with 4:47 remaining. Dante Poli, who led Stockton with four goals on the night, scored on the man-up and now all that was needed was to ensure Kean did not answer back. Throne, with 42 goals on the season and his sophomore season on the line, came up clutch for Kean.

In the final minutes of the fourth quarter, Throne retrieved the ball in the back of the net at X.  Throne came around the crease knowing he was going to be crushed by a Stockton defender and fired in the game-tying goal before falling to the turf.

Moments later off a Stockton turnover, Hunter Jenkinson ran down the field on a fast break and found an open Throne in front of the net. Throne threw a couple fakes and would finally put the ball in the back of the net to give Kean a 15-14 lead with 2:56 left.

Stockton had the opportunity to even things off in the final two minutes, but Kean would survive for their first ever CLC win. Kean will now advance to the semi-final round of the CLC and face second-seeded Christopher Newport on Friday. 

Both CLC tournament games in New Jersey this Tuesday night were electric. Friday, we will come to find out if any of these New Jersey lacrosse teams (Kean and Montclair State) have the playoff magic to upset two of the best teams in College Lacrosse. If they are capable, they will earn themselves a bid in the first ever CLC Championship game.