The Montclair State RedHawks men’s lacrosse team will now find themselves competing with some of the best D-III lacrosse programs in the nation. This all thanks to the Coast-To-Coast Athletic Conference (C2C) and the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) announcing the creation of the Coastal Lacrosse Conference (CLC), an NCAA Division III single-sport men's lacrosse conference.
The announcement of the CLC back in July, 2022 formed a conference with six teams total, including three teams from New Jersey and the other three located in Maryland. The three NJAC men's lacrosse schools included Montclair State University, Kean University, Stockton University, while the three C2C men's lacrosse schools being Christopher Newport University, Salisbury University and University of Mary Washington. CNU and Salisbury are two teams that found themselves fighting for a national championship just one year ago and will now be conference opponents with three New Jersey DIII lacrosse programs.
Tuesday afternoon, Montclair State (4-4) had themselves a rough welcoming in their first-ever CLC game facing powerhouse Salisbury University (8-1). The Salisbury Seagulls have won a total of 12 D3 national championships, falling just short from their 13th title losing to Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), 15-13 in the 2022 NCAA National Championship.
In the early stages of the first quarter, Montclair State fought hard attempting to battle their new conference rival who is currently ranked top five in the nation. Salisbury was able to gain an early 3-0 lead and Montclair hoped they would be able to capture their first goal before the first half buzzer.
Senior Mike McCreery retrieved the ball from behind the net and instantly ran around the crease for a backhanded shot giving Montclair State their first goal of the game. This would be Montclair State’s first-ever goal against one of their CLC opponents and it couldn't have been any better. Salisbury would answer right back and finish off the first quarter with a 5-1 lead.
Early in the second quarter, Montclair State knew that they would have to keep scoring if they had any possibility of sticking around with this Salisbury team. With 13:40 left in the second quarter, Ethan Mounier unloaded a great shot that found the top left corner of the net to bring it back to a three-goal contest. This brought excitement for the Montclair State as they found themselves down three in the second quarter.
Salisbury did what great teams do, and this was to answer right back. Salisbury would simply take over in the second quarter outscoring Montclair 9-2. Salisbury showed us why their best and how it's likely they will always be a top team in the CLC. Montclair State would head to the locker room down 14-3 in their first-ever Coastal Lacrosse Conference game ever.
Salisbury outscored Montclair State 13-4 in the second half not allowing Montclair to build any sort of momentum or push. Salisbury would cruise in their first game in the new look CLC with an impressive 27-7 victory. Salisbury showed why they are one of the top teams in the nation, and that Montclair State will have to continue to grind to compete with some of these top DIII programs. Fourteen different players found the back of the net for Salisbury, while Mounier led the attack for Montclair State finishing with three goals to give him 13 total goals on the year.
Montclair State will now travel up to Throggs Neck, New York to take on Maritime College this Saturday afternoon. They hope to bounce back after this disappointing loss to Salisbury before they take on their next conference opponent on April 1st. It will be great experience for the Montclair State's Men lacrosse joining the Costal Lacrosse Conference and should be interesting to see how these New Jersey lacrosse programs handle the transition.