Onondaga, Monroe Wrap Perfect Years With NJCAA Crowns
|Onondaga earned its sixth straight NJCAA crown on Sunday, topping Nassau CC 12-7 and increasing its win streak to 87 games. (Larry Palumbo)|
|Monroe players celebrate their second straight undefeated season and NJCAA crown, earned with an 11-8 victory over Onondaga. (Brian Schneider)|
A pair of unblemished national champions were crowned in the National Junior College Athletic Association over the weekend, as Onondaga CC and Monroe CC capped undefeated years with titles in men's and women's lacrosse, respectively.
For the Lazers, the championship — capped by a 12-7 victory over Nassau — was the sixth straight and upped their winning streak to a remarkable 87 straight. Monroe topped Onondaga on the women's side by an 11-8 score in the finals, its 35th consecutive win and a fourth NJCAA title in the past five seasons.
"As exciting as it is [to have a long streak going], it's about taking home the national championship," said OCC head coach Chuck Wilbur, whose program has won eight of the past nine titles. "We don't talk about the streak. We talk about being good enough to win a national title."
In its defeat of the Lazers women's side, Monroe was led by Melanie Murphy (four goals) and Caitlin Cavallaro in goal, who made four saves in the final after stopping 10 against Harford CC in the semifinals. The duo earned Offensive and Defensive MVP awards for the tournament.
A six-goal run that spanned halftime helped salt the game away for the Tribunes, turning a 4-3 OCC advantage into a 5-4 lead at the half that expanded to a 9-4 lead in the second. Onondaga scored three straight to reel it back to a two-goal game, but Monroe pulled away for the final three-goal margin.
Michell Schwartz and Molly Gray each had a hat-trick for the Tribunes, who also caused 13 OCC turnovers in the win. The Lazers got three goals and an assist from Jenna Battaglini and two goals each from Nicole Devona and Makenzie Annable.
In its victory in New York, Onondaga was anchored by Vaughn Harris, who was the offensive MVP of the tournament, and Warren Hill in goal, the defensive MVP. Harris had two goals and an assist in the finals, while Hill made 17 saves.
"Over the last several years, our offense gets the accolades, but today's championship was won by our defense," Wilbur said. "They get overlooked because of our offense, but I think Warren Hill might be the best goalie at any level."
Nicholas Garbarino led the finals offense for Onondaga with five goals, while Tim Barber had a pair of goals and three assists. Onondaga had advanced to the final with a 19-4 win over Anne Arundel in the semifinals on Saturday.
Nassau finished as runner-up to the Lazers for the third consecutive season. They were a 17-7 victor over CCBC-Essex in Saturday's semifinals.
Speaking on Sunday evening, Wilbur was as pleased with the fact that he and his fellow NJCAA coaches would get to spend the rest of the spring watching former players playing in the NCAA tournament at four-year colleges that they made it to upon completion of their JUCO eligibility, such as Randy Staats at Syracuse, a star of his last two championship squads.
"I'm more proud of my players [in NCAA lacrosse] than any title we've won," he said. "I'm proud of seeing guys like Randy and Cody [Jamieson, who won a title in 2010 with Syracuse after a storied OCC career] grow and mature in our program, then send them off to a four-year program and fulfill that dream that they've been chasing. That's what this is all about."
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