Men's Lacrosse Falls to Kean in Skyline Championship

Montclair, NJ (5/3/08) – Sophomore attack Scott Leathem (Fair Lawn, NJ / Fair Lawn) scored from just off the right side with 57 seconds remaining as third-seeded Kean University notched the last three goals to capture the Skyline Conference Men’s Lacrosse Championship with an 8-7 come-from-behind win over top-seeded Montclair State at Sprague Field on Saturday evening.

Senior goalkeeper Dave Nichols ( Florham Park, NJ / Hanover Park) made 12 saves and earned Most Valuable Player honors in the tournament as the Cougars tallied twice in the final 1:48 of the game to win their first Skyline title and earn the program’s first trip to the NCAA Division III Men’s Lacrosse Championship. The pairings for the NCAA Tournament will be announced on Monday, May 5.
Sophomore Taylor Bonner ( Old Bridge, NJ / Old Bridge) had three goals for Montclair State, which completed its season at 12-5. The Red Hawks, who went unbeaten in Skyline play during the regular season, including a 14-5 win over Kean on April 9, had their three-game winning streak snapped.

Bonner’s third goal with 10:34 to play gave Montclair State a 7-5 lead, but it turned out to be the final score for MSU the Cougar defense turned it up a notch allowing just two shots the rest of the way. After Nichols made the last of his 12 saves, Kean moved the ball down the field and pulled within one with 7:04 remaining as Chris DeCarlo (Sandy Utah / Juan Diego Catholic) tallied a goal from in front of the cage to get the contest within a one-goal margin.

After trading turnovers, Kean would get the ball back with 5:35 to go and held the ball for nearly four minutes, getting off four shots before finally coming up with the tying goal. After C.J. Gannon ( Morris Plains, NJ / Seton Hall Prep) picked up a ground ball, Dennis Lukacsko ( Lincoln Park, NJ / Seton Hall Prep) found Bertucci on the left side for the tying goal as the game was knotted at 7-7.

Montclair State would win the face off but turned the ball over, the Red Hawks 15 th of the game, giving Kean an opportunity, which they would take full advantage of as Leathem collected his team-leading 47 th goal of the year putting the Cougars in front for the first time since midway through the second quarter.

The Red Hawks had one last chance as it won the ensuing faceoff, but Chris Masiulis (Ellicott City, MD / Howard) forced a turnover and Tom Eller (West Caldwell, NJ / Caldwell) picked up the ground ball as the clock ran out giving Kean the conference title and the trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Kean jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first six minutes of the contest as Cope scored twice and Mike Terry ( Maplewood, NJ / Columbia) added a goal. Bonner registered his first with 7:43 left and after Eric Gillar ( Milltown, NJ / St. Joseph’s) tallied for Kean, Mario Passafiume ( Boonton, NJ / Mountain Lakes) scored with 1:52 left as MSU trailed 4-2 after one.

In the second period, Meixner and A.J. Bachman ( Montville, NJ / Mountain Lakes ) netted goals early as Montclair tied the game at 4-4, but Bertucci finished off a Gannon feed to put Kean back on top at 5-4. Meixner’s goal 33 seconds later retired the game and Bonner scored with eight seconds left before halftime as Montclair State led 6-5 at the break.

Junior Tyler Meixner ( Hamburg, NJ / Vernon) had two goals and an assist for Montclair State, which got five saves from goalkeeper Thomas Bowers ( Hamburg, NJ / Pope John XXIII). John Schiavone ( Montclair, NJ / Montclair) won eight faceoffs and had five ground balls while Mike Grouss ( Summit, NJ / Summit) was 4-of-5 on faceoffs with six ground balls.

Eller had three ground balls for Kean, which got four faceoff wins from Justin Lappen Tolland, CT/Tolland).