On May 7, with nearly 500 in attendance at Sprague Field, the top-seeded Montclair State Men’s Lacrosse team beat the Stockton University Ospreys (14-4) 13-6, continuing the team’s dynasty run of eight Skyline Conference titles in a row. The victory also marked the Red Hawks’ eighth straight win in a row after starting the season at a dismal 1-5, a remarkable turnaround that has their momentum riding high into the coming NCAA Division III Tournament.
Right on cue, senior attacker and the game’s Most Outstanding Player Brett Mangan led Montclair State to success this day, posting four goals and three assists – a stat line that Red Hawk supporters are used to seeing from him.
Things appeared very close near halftime with a score of 5-5, until the ball struck the back of the net off the stick of Mangan for the Red Hawks’ sixth goal with nothing but 0:01 left on the clock – a moment that would later prove to turn the momentum of the rest of the game.
Mangan then opened the second half by mercilessly taking control of the game for Montclair State with two more goals, both coming just under three minutes into the third quarter. Sensing an opening, the Red Hawks blew by the Ospreys for the rest of the half, outscoring them 7-1, while ultimately making it clear who the conference’s leader was.
Senior midfielder Zack Schreck and attacker Don Finn matched each other with two goals and an assist each, further solidifying their already strong season numbers. Junior attacker Brady Wulster held up when it mattered most, tossing in two goals of his own as well.
Stockton put up a good fight in the first half, but it then became painfully obvious that the Red Hawks were too powerfully hitting their stride at the right time. Montclair State put up one of their strongest team performances of the season, even after the game got testy, featuring five penalties of an aggressive nature, including unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct.
The Red Hawks only weak spot for the game was an inability to capitalize on the man up opportunities created by those penalties, going 0-for-4 when having that advantage. On the flip side though, they held strong on defense during the four opportunities the Ospreys had in the same situation.
The always important turnover and faceoff battles were predictably in Montclair State’s favor, as the team went plus-seven in turnovers. Faceoff specialist and First Team All-Conference selection Blase Mantineo won over half of his faceoff chances to help the Red Hawks keep possession.
The Red Hawks also tallied 42 shots throughout the match, consistently tossing up at least eight shots every quarter – something Stockon did just twice.
Montclair State got some great news a day before the opening whistle even blew, as nine players on their now conference championship roster were selected to the First and Second All-Skyline Conference teams. The Red Hawks also swept the Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year Awards as Zack Schreck and Ryan Young respectively took them home.
First team selections included seniors Mangan, Finn, Schreck, Ryan Totin, Steve Danyluk and juniors Mantineo and Young. Second team selections included senior Connor Cunningham and junior Ryan Anzalone.
Up next on the Red Hawks’ agenda is the NCAA Tournament, where they’re scheduled to travel to New Hampshire to play the Keene State Owls (14-3) on May 11 at 6pm. The Owls are currently riding an 11-game win streak and are too coming off a conference title win of their own, beating Eastern Connecticut State (10-7) 22-8 in the Little East Conference Finals. This will also be the first meeting of the two schools.