The Montclair State University men’s lacrosse team can now secure their tickets to the Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) Championship to face Stockton University in Galloway, New Jersey after defeating archrival Kean University in the CSAC semi-final by a score of 12-11 for the second consecutive time.
Both sides played a tremendous game and that is expected as anytime you get two of the top three teams from the CSAC facing off in a semi-final, it’s going to be absolute fireworks.
Neither team had very much breathing room as far as a lead goes but, junior midfielder Tyler McCreery believes the Red Hawks’ success stemmed from being, tenacious.
“I would use the word tenacious,” McCreery said. “We’re just hard-working kids, we’re going for ground balls, we’re putting our head down, we get to work every day and it’s just a sign [that] hard work pays off.”
McCreery led the way for the Red Hawks on the offensive end as he found the back of the net three times and also tallied six dimes which put him at nine points for the game. McCreery’s stellar season has played a huge factor in the Red Hawks’ success, so much so that he was just named 2nd Team All-CSAC.
Although the Red Hawks and the Kean Cougars have proven to be offensive juggernauts throughout this season, head coach Matt Poskay believes the excellent defensive play was what got the job done.
“The other night the offense was clicking a little bit and it was kind of a high scoring game,” Poskay said. “And all of a sudden it turned into a defensive battle. Credit to our defense, they buckled down when we needed to. They had some long possessions that they dealt with and that was the most important.”
The Red Hawks made it difficult on the Cougars all night by keeping it compact in the box and constantly jumping passing lanes which led to 20 turnovers by Kean.
After beating Kean for the second straight time, Poskay is confident that the team is in a good state heading into Saturday.
“We’re going in the right direction,” Poskay said. “We really bought into each other and wanted to keep this thing going. At the end of the day, this is May lacrosse. If you’re playing important lacrosse in May, it’s a good thing and the most important thing to me is that we get one more day together.”
With the combination of being ranked second in goals scored in the CSAC with an average of 17.69 per game and the best defense in the conference, which is led by CSAC Defensive Player of the Year Wilson Smith, the Red Hawks have put themselves in a great position to win their first conference championship since 2017, a game that was also against Stockton.
The winner of the CSAC Championship, which takes place on May 7 at 1 p.m., gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Men’s Lacrosse Championship and the Red Hawks know they’ll have to be clicking on all cylinders.
“It’s a championship game, things happen,” Poskay said. “Everyone’s going to say it was a one-goal game last time but it doesn’t matter come Saturday at 1 p.m. It’s 0-0, they’re going to do some things and we’re going to do some things, we just have to find our way to do what we do well and find a way to stop them when needed.”