A year ago, the CCBC-Essex men's lacrosse team threw everything it had at Nassau Community College in the National Junior College Athletic Association championship game, and it still got steamrollered by 12 goals.
When the teams met yesterday in the NJCAA semifinals, the result was once again a blowout. This time, however, it was host Essex that did the routing.
The Knights defeated the Lions, 16-8, to earn their second straight appearance in the national championship game and ended a string of four consecutive titles for Nassau. Essex attackman Matt Bosse led the way with four goals, and Knights goalie Chris Petrush made 17 saves.
"It's a great feeling right now," said Bosse, a sophomore from Fallston. "We worked really hard to try and take Nassau out of their game plan, and we pushed the ball really hard on offense. We did the little things like find the extra man, and I think that paid off for us."
Essex (13-2) will take on Herkimer County (N.Y.) Community College (17-0) in the championship game today at 1 p.m. at CCBC-Essex Stadium.
"It's always a war when Herkimer and Essex meet up," said Knights coach Tim Puls. "They beat us, 14-13, in double overtime earlier this year, and we had two shots that hit the pipe right before they came down and scored."
Essex hasn't won an NJCAA championship since 1991, but if Knights faceoff man Joe Trentzsch can play like he did yesterday, there's a good chance that drought could end. Trentzsch won 15 of 22 faceoffs against Nassau (7-6).
"[Trentzsch] is a hell of a player," said Nassau coach Rich Speckman, who has coached the Lions to 20 national titles. "His faceoffs were really critical."
Essex jumped ahead early and never looked back. Knights defenseman Justin Tischler scored the first two goals of the game to help put Essex up 5-1 after the first quarter, and Bosse added two in the second to give his team an 8-3 lead at halftime.
Herkimer 22, CCBC-Catonsville 10: The Generals (17-0) kept the dream of a perfect season alive with a sloppy victory over the Cardinals (7-6), led by Corey Warner and Jamie Ireland, who each scored four goals. The Generals fell behind 1-0, but then scored seven consecutive goals.
The game was an emotional one for the Cardinals. The last time the two schools met, March 23, Catonsville captain P.J. Schafer III, 20, collapsed during the game and later died of a heart attack. The team dedicated the rest of the season to Schafer and made it to the Final Four for the third time in school history.
"It's been a very difficult year," said Catonsville coach Dave Mizter. "But these kids worked very hard, and to make it this far ... is a wonderful achievement."