In a contentious game, CCBC Essex men’s lacrosse lost their 2018 season debut against Suffolk County Community College 10 to 8, last Saturday, February 24.
Both the Knights and the Suffolk Sharks played aggressively on offense, with the former posting 25 shots and the latter 34, meaning the Knights shot more accurately by roughly 3%, though not as frequently.
Midfielder Timothy Ross scored three times and attackman Evan Clement had a pair of goals, while midfielder Kyle Christenson and attackman Dakota Lyon each scored once.
CCBC dominated faceoffs, taking possession on 12 of 20, thanks to their recent transfer from Hampton University, Dawson Porter, who also scored once unassisted, on a fast break.
Goalie John Eden saved 15 of Suffolk’s 25 shots on goal, whereas Suffolk’s goalie, Jon Vargas, managed 18 saves.
Both teams racked up similar time in penalties - around seven minutes - and each received a pair of unsportsmanlike conduct calls.
Suffolk established undisputed control of ground balls, fielding 33, as opposed to Essex’s 15.
Saturday’s game against Suffolk marked Tim King’s first season opener since taking over as head coach midway through last season, when the former head coach, Shawn Burke, resigned after Essex received a self-reported scholarship and recruiting infraction, which barred the Knights from post season play and stripped them of their 2016 regional title.
Self-declared FOGO James Chasse, who played under Burke last season, said the Knights “weren’t playing as a team”, last Saturday, and feels that “better ball movement” would have helped secure a victory over the Sharks.
King echoed Chasse’s critique of his team’s performance, saying, “it went back and forth, but at the end we stopped offensively, we were anxious to shoot the ball, and [Suffolk] kept the lead.”. He also stressed that expanding their repertoire of offensive plays and clearing the ball effectively will be key in their upcoming matches.
King has assistant coaching experience at Florida Institute of Technology and Florida Southern College, NCAA Division I and II schools respectively, but says he was drawn back to coach at CCBC because of a personal attachment to his alma mater; King played midfield at CCBC Essex in 1988 and 1989.
“Bully tactics are used by teams across the board in [NCJAA] lacrosse right now. Essex was singled out, and we lost a lot of players, but I’m working to get rid of [bully tactics] altogether,” said King when asked about the specifics of the infraction, which resulted in many players transferring from CCBC Essex to other NCJAA schools.
Consequently, King’s efforts as a head coach have been concentrated on “reinventing and rebuilding”, but he says the region XX tournament, and NJCAA national tournament are in his sights in 2018.
The region XX title has been boasted by CCBC Essex 32 times all told, and the Knights have appeared in thirteen NCJAA national title games, winning two, in 1991 and 2004. The 2017 infraction broke their streak of eleven consecutive appearances in the NCJAA national tournament.
To get there this year, King says the Knights “have to be worried about every team”, but that playing on the road against last year’s national title winners, Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, New York, on March 17, “will be especially tough.”
King says he and assistant coach Ken Reid are expectant of a competitive season, and increased athletic maturity from players, despite their team’s overall lack of NCJAA experience.
The Knights play next at CCBC Catonsville on March 6, and their home opener against Genesee Community College is scheduled for March 10, at noon.