The Montclair State University men’s lacrosse team led 9-6 late in the third quarter, but the game was on the precipice of going Stockton University’s way. After Montclair State junior defender Ryan Young earned a penalty for mouthing off to the official, the Ospreys were threatening to wrestle back control over the game with a two-minute man advantage.
Stockton launched a barrage of shots on net, from every angle, but junior goalkeeper Lucas Jones erected an impenetrable steel wall and refused to let any shot past him. Four different Stockton players attempted to put one past Jones, but Jones stopped them each time.
On the heels of solid defense, the Red Hawks killed the penalty, scored three consecutive goals in the period’s final minute and put the game out of reach. The Red Hawks defeated Stockton 13-6 and seized their eighth consecutive Skyline Conference Tournament championship.
“We were just thinking about playing good team defense,” Jones said. “It happened that we let a few [shots] from inside, and we just came up big. Our whole team came up big today.”
Montclair State Head Coach Mike Schambach described those moments as the turning point in the game. After the game, Schambach said, “We had momentum, and it was their window to get back into the game. It was just an incredible effort by our defense. That was the difference in the game. Once we got through that storm, that was it.”
In their ninth consecutive Skyline Conference Tournament championship appearance, Montclair State struck first. Senior midfielder Connor Cunningham, fresh off a pass from senior attack Brett Mangan, rifled his shot past Stockton University senior goalkeeper Pat Quinn. Stockton responded with a game-tying goal with 5:42 left in the first quarter, but senior midfielder Zach Schreck scored 40 seconds later to give the Red Hawks a 2-1 lead.
Moments later, Schreck darted into the offensive zone, weaved his way towards the crease, was pummeled down into the turf and then scooped the ball into the net for his second goal of the game. The Red Hawks led 3-1. However, Stockton scored and cut the lead down to 3-2 before the end of the first quarter.
The Ospreys scored the game’s next two goals – giving them three unanswered goals – and captured a 4-3 lead with 10:16 left in the second quarter. Montclair State fired multiple shots towards the net, but junior attacker Brady Wulster broke through and put one past Quinn to tie the game at 4-4.
The Red Hawks and Ospreys traded a goal each way and were deadlocked at 5-5 late in the second quarter.
With time expiring in the first half, Cunningham launched a shot from 35 yards away and put it past Stockton’s goalkeeper, giving the Red Hawks a 6-5 lead. Montclair State finished the half with 11 more shots than Stockton, and they forced the Ospreys into 11 turnovers.
The Red Hawks sent an offensive storm Stockton’s way in the beginning of the second half. Following a quick gain of possession, Mangan controlled the ball in the offensive zone, turned, fired and scored, which earned him his 200th career point.
Less than a minute later, Mangan scored again and gave the Red Hawks an 8-5 lead just under three minutes into the third quarter.
The Ospreys scored a goal and cut off Montclair State’s momentum, however, junior attacker Corey Carlson ripped a shot past Quinn to give the Red Hawks a 9-6 lead.
Montclair State junior defender Ryan Young was shoved later in the third quarter, and thinking that it deserved a call, Young mouthed off to the official and earned a two minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The Red Hawks were down a man and faced numerous shots, but Jones refused to let Stockton score. The Ospreys threatened to score multiple times during their man advantage, but Jones continuously came up with saves to hold the score at 9-6.
The Red Hawks scored three consecutive goals to close out the third quarter to expand their lead to 12-6. Montclair State scored one more goal in the fourth quarter, and they eventually won 13-6.
Montclair State will move on to play in the NCAA DIII Men’s Lacrosse tournament. The Red Hawks will learn who their next opponent is on Monday during the selection show, and the first round will take place on May 11.