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  • BR & Hoover Alum Sam Esterle and his OCC teammates win a National Championship with an 11-9 win over Nassau.

    May 14, 2018 | woody calleri

    Syracuse, N.Y. -- The country's most dominant junior college lacrosse program won its second consecutive national championship on Sunday by knocking off the country's most successful program.

    Onondaga Community College capped an undefeated season and ran its two-year winning streak to 30 games with an 11-9 win over Nassau Community College at Lazer Stadium.

    The victory gave OCC back-to-back national titles and 11 championships over the past 13 seasons. The Lazers' total of 11 national titles is second in National Junior College Athletic Association lacrosse history to Nassau's 21.

    As the Lazers milked off the final seconds of the clock, preparing for the customary sprint from the sidelines, they added one more log to the rivalry's fire. OCC players chanted Laz-ers in the same sing-song cadence that Nassau fans had used to celebrate their goals over the previous 60 minutes.

    "Two-goal game, national championship with two great teams, two rivals that have been going at it for years now," OCC coach Chuck Wilbur said. "What a way to win a championship."

    It was the toughest test the Lazers encountered during another dominant season, and it offered another example of why the two programs serve as such perfect foils.

    Top-seeded OCC came in with a lineup littered with future Division I players. It had won its previous 14 games by an average of 24 goals. Yet, Nassau came less than a second away from sending the Lazers' into the fourth quarter trailing. 

    Nassau had taken the edge off the Lazers' electric offense and tried to wear down its defense by holding onto possession for huge swaths of time. OCC played into the Tigers' gameplan with a number of impatient possessions, particularly in the third quarter.

    It all left an OCC team that hadn't needed a clutch play all season, requiring multiple down the stretch.

    The biggest came with .3 seconds left in the third quarter. The Lazers had gone scoreless for 14 minutes and 59 seconds of the period, watching a two-goal edge turn into an 8-7 deficit before Zach Pierce tied the game at 8 with a bounce shot with .3 seconds remaining on the clock.

    "It was enough to get a shot off," Pierce said. "It was enough to get a shot off, to take a step and turn the corner a little bit. It wasn't anything too crazy for me."

    The goal sapped Nassau's momentum, and allowed the Lazers to assert some control over the tempo.

    Onondaga took the lead for good when Travis Longboat intercepted a pass and scored into an open net just 1:37 into the fourth quarter, then built its advantage to two on an Austin Staats goal.

    "It was the first time in the season we've been down that late," Pierce said. "We know on the sidelines and the field if we kept doing our thing we'd be OK." 

    Staats, who was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Offensive Player, finished with a hat trick, as did his teammate Russ Oakes. Sophomore James Sexton finished with a goal and four assists.

    "We knew they were going to stall us and slow us down," Wilbur said. "That's everyone's gameplan against us. But they're good enough to do it and they're disciplined enough to do it. Really, the four quarters was their tempo and not what we like doing. Fortunately we got a couple goals to take the lead and make them play a little faster at the end."

    Contact Chris Carlson anytime: Email | Twitter | 315-412-1639

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