Farmingdale, NY (4/30/11) – If there was
one word to best describe Saturday’s Skyline Conference Men’s Lacrosse
Championship Game it would be “emotional”.
Montclair State captured its third straight league crown as the second-seeded Red Hawks knocked off top-seeded Farmingdale State, 9-7 to earn its third consecutive trip to the NCAA Division III Men’s Lacrosse Championship. Pairings will be announced on Sunday, May 8 with the opening round scheduled for Wednesday, May 11.
Junior attack Tyler Meth (Basking Ridge, NJ / Ridge)
earned his second Most Valuable Player honor in three years scoring
three goals as the Red Hawks also avenged a 9-6 loss to the Rams
earlier this season.
But it was more than just the victory that made the afternoon such an emotional one for Montclair State. For the entire season, the Red Hawks were “Playing 2011 for John Greco”, their head coach, who passed away suddenly on November 4, 2010 at the age of 33. Greco had turned Montclair State into one of the top teams in the region and led MSU to back-to-back Skyline crowns while producing the greatest season in school history last year as his team went 15-4.
The team wore bracelets throughout the season with the aforementioned saying and hoped to honor their coach with another run toward a Skyline Championship and an NCAA berth.
The Red Hawks’ season however got off to a rough start at 3-6 with four losses coming to teams ranked in the Top 10 in the nation. The sixth loss came at the hands of Farmingdale, whose three-goal win on April 6 snapped Montclair’s 17-game Skyline regular-season unbeaten streak. However the Red Hawks responded with five consecutive wins (all in the conference) to close out the regular season and then won a tight 4-3 contest against New York Maritime in the tournament semifinals to set up the rematch with Farmingdale.
Things didn’t begin well for the Red Hawks on Saturday as Farmingdale quickly went up 2-0 on goals 16 seconds apart. But the Red Hawks settled down and cut that deficit in half as Meth scored his first goal on a man advantage with 8:27 remaining. Meth would then tie the game just before the end of the first period. Taking a feed from Greg Fitzgerald (Glen Ridge, NJ / Glen Ridge), he posted his second as the contest was knotted at 2-2 heading into the second quarter.
Anthony Rybek (Old Bridge, NJ / Old Bridge) put MSU up 3-2 with an unassisted tally at the 10:59 mark, however Farmingdale answered with two goals in a 62-second span to take a 4-3 advantage. The Red Hawks reeled off the next three goals to regain the lead for good. Kyle Hearn (Sussex, NJ / Vernon Township) got the run started at 8:18 and Bobby Sinicola (North Caldwell, NJ / West Essex) connected with 6:35 to play before Thomas Ring (Nutley, NY / Nutley) scored giving Montclair State a 6-4 lead. Farmingdale stopped the run with a man-up goal as MSU took a one-goal lead into halftime.
The game turned defensive in the third period as neither team could find the back of the net. Montclair State held a 8-7 advantage in shots in the period however Red Hawk keeper Mark Glander (Vernon, NJ / Vernon) and Rams netminder Brian Nerney turned aside five of the six attempts on goal. The lone shot that would get through came off the stick of Meth, who recorded the hat trick with two minutes to go in the third as Montclair increased its lead to 7-5 after three periods.
Ring’s second goal in the fourth with 11:39 left gave Montclair its largest lead at 8-5. Farmingdale would answer that with a goal two minutes later, but that would be the last shot the Rams would get over a seven-minute span as the Montclair State defense clamped down.
Freshman Robbie Smith (Randolph, NJ / Randolph) added an important insurance goal with 2:30 remaining. Farmingdale got the final score with two seconds remaining.
Glander stopped 13 shots for Montclair State while the defensive unit headed by Anthony Dzienkiewicz (Jackson, NJ / Jackson Memorial ), Mike Lade (Randolph, NJ / Randolph) and Dustin Malaszuk (Clifton, NJ / Clifton) forced nine turnovers and registered seven ground balls. Faceoff specialist Marc Guido (North Caldwell, NJ / West Essex) won 9-of-15 faceoffs with six ground balls while senior Robert Glander (Vernon, NJ / Vernon) posted a team-best eight ground balls.
Following the euphoric on-field post-game celebration, the Red Hawks accepted the Skyline Championship trophy, then together walked it over toward its rather large cheering section on hand and presented the trophy to Greco’s wife Karen in what could be best described as an emotional moment.
Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen declared in 1998 after his team’s Super Bowl 28 victory “This one’s for John” referring to his legendary quarterback John Elway.
On Saturday, it was the same statement made by the Red Hawks.