The Montclair State University men’s lacrosse team rode a second-half rally to overcome an early deficit to defeat the University of Mary Washington 18-14 in the opening round of the inaugural Coastal Lacrosse Conference (CLC) tournament.
The Eagles, despite coming into the tournament with only a single conference win, were in control throughout the first half. The Red Hawks could not find an answer to Mary Washington senior attacker J.D. Nosemack, who scored five goals within the first 30 minutes of play.
Montclair State head coach Matt Poskay said that his team did not start off the game the way they needed to.
“It was the tail of two halves,” Poskay said. “We weren’t doing the best job in the defensive transition and they were just getting behind us and [scoring].”
Going into the locker room at the half, the environment in the Montclair State locker room was calm. Poskay said that the Red Hawks knew exactly what they needed to do to get back into the contest.
“When I looked around the locker room at halftime down three, I wasn’t panicked and they weren’t panicked and we knew [that] we just needed to simplify things a little bit, get in on defense,” Poskay said. “When we had the ball we were doing some nice things you know and when the ball was going in for us we just had to be a little less careless and take care of it.”
The script flipped completely in the second half. Montclair State came out of the locker room in high gear as Mike McCreery connected with his brother Tyler to slice the ball into the net just 30 seconds into the third quarter.
This triggered a 5-1 goal run which included an impressive shot from graduate midfielder Joe Covino, who found the back of the net. Mccreery, who finished the game with three goals and assists, said that the team played a much more loose game, which led to this run.
“We just got back to simple things,” McCreery said. “We started just not thinking about it too much and kind of just playing. I think [the] majority of the guys on this team got recruited here and have been playing are skilled enough to do the little things right and I think when we stopped thinking about it so much, and [coach Poskay] just let us play, we actually got a lot of stuff together and it turned out well for us.”
With the game knotted at 13 at the end of the third quarter, the Red Hawk’s grueling 18-game campaign all came down to 15 minutes. Poskay said that after so many close contests throughout the season, his team knew how to fight in this must-win situation.
“We’ve been down [in] multiple games,” Poskay said, “[That puts] a lot of stress on us…but I do have that in the back of my mind that I know that we’re going to scrap until the end and we just got to get the ball. When we have the ball we can do some pretty nice things. Once we got the ball, we were able to settle in on defense and then go on our run. It was pretty special to watch.”
Matt Dancsecs made his presence felt with his fourth goal of the day during the period. Sophomore midfielder Ethan Mounier sealed the deal by scoring the final two Red Hawk goals of the evening.
The defensive effort by Montclair State played a key role as well down the stretch. Graduate student goaltender David Metzger posted a .533 save percentage and locked down the net in the fourth, only allowing a single goal.
McCreery said that experience and chemistry were the key factors in the team’s win over UMW.
“I think it comes with leadership and the chemistry that we build all year long,” McCreery said. “During those tough times, during those games where you’re down one goal, two goals, three goals, whatever it may be, we kinda just try to stay calm and have that mentality [of], “next one, best one.” And just keep going and keep chipping away [at UMW].”
After securing their spot in the semifinals of the CLC Tournament, Montclair State will go head to head against the two-seeded Salisbury Seagulls on the road Friday afternoon.