HCC Men’s Lacrosse Regular Season Recap and Playoffs Preview

After strong regular season, Dragons begin quest for NJCAA national championship vs. 6-seeded Genesee


Sarah Phelps, HCC Athletics Department

Seeded third in the NJCAA national tournament, the Dragons men’s lacrosse program is three wins away from a national championship

Ozair Hussain, Staff Writer

Despite a surprising 19-13 loss to the CCBC Essex Knights in the Region 20 tournament semifinals, the HCC men’s lacrosse team will still have the chance to compete for a national championship.

Although the loss prevented the Dragons from earning an automatic bid in the national bracket as district champions, the team’s strong regular season — which included an overall record of 9-2 (3-1 conference) and a No. 2 final ranking — earned it an at-large selection.

The Dragons enter the national championship bracket as the No. 3 seed and will host the No. 6-seeded Genesee Cougars on Saturday, May 7 at 12 p.m. in the national quarterfinals.

Head coach Erik Foust described his team’s regular season as “fulfilling” after the last two seasons were canceled due to the pandemic, adding that this season “has been a blessing for both the players and the coaches.”

He also highlighted “the growth and maturity of the team as the season has progressed” as keys to the Dragons’ success.

Freshman midfielder Kaden Brennan shared a similar sentiment, saying “looking back on our season, I believe it was a successful year.” Brennan finished the regular season with 14 goals, 13 assists and a 68.4% shot on goal percentage.

Both Foust and Brennan regarded the Dragons’ historic win against No. 5 Onondaga on March 11 as one of the season’s high points. The 13-12 triumph scored the program’s first-ever victory over the Lazers and was the team’s first of three wins against a top-5 opponent.

Foust described the win as “exciting and satisfying,” while Brennan added that “traveling to Onondaga and getting our coaches’ first-ever win against them was huge, especially on the road.”

The Dragons carried the momentum from Onondaga by winning their next three games, including a 21-9 thrashing of No. 1 Nassau on April 2 that earned earned the team a No. 1 national ranking for the first time in program history.

Brennan was a steady contributor to the Dragons’ high-powered offense, logging 14 goals and 13 assists during the regular season (Sarah Phelps, HCC Athletics Department)

Despite losing the top ranking a week later after a loss to Harford, Foust said that being No. 1 was not ideal for his team. “It was honestly a distraction,” he explained. “I’m glad we’re not No. 1 right now. The goal is to be No. 1 with no games left.”

Brennan felt the same way about the loss and explained how the team re-shifted its focus moving forward.

“Getting beat up 19-11 was a big reality check for our team,” he said. “The loss humbled us and taught us how important it is to show up and have the same mindset everyday.”

The team bounced back with four consecutive convincing wins, including a 30-1 shellacking of Carroll on April 13, before falling to Essex in the Region 20 tournament.

With the season on the line, Foust, Brennan and the rest of the team will look to improve to 3-0 coming off a loss.

The Dragons have had success against Genesee this season, as they defeated the Cougars 18-7 on March 18.

In that game, face-off specialists Terence Harmon and Zach Wentz combined to go a perfect 14-14 on face-offs in the first half. Freshman midfielder Chase Noah paved the way for the team, scoring three goals, notching five assists and forcing a ground ball.

With a win at home against the Cougars on Saturday, the Dragons will have an opportunity for a rematch against the No. 2-seeded Knights in the semifinals on Saturday, May 14 in Garden City, NY.