HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) - Meeting in the NJCAA Region III men's lacrosse championship for the sixth straight year on Sunday, top-ranked, top-seeded and undefeated Onondaga claimed its fifth straight title against Herkimer County Community College 18-7.
Onondaga, now 12-0, earns an automatic berth in next weekend's national tournament, which will also be held at HCCC along with the women's tourney. Herkimer failed to get the at-large bid to the four-team event and ends its season 10-3.
With Onondaga having won seven of the last eight overall meetings with Herkimer including a 22-6 rout at HCCC earlier this season, the Lazers came in as the clear favorite. Onondaga scoring just nine seconds into the game seemed to signal this might be another rout, but Herkimer responded just 37 seconds later to tie it.
That opening minute set the tempo for the rest of the quarter. Onondaga went up 3-1, 5-2 and 6-3, Herkimer got back within 6-5, then Onondaga scored two more to lead 8-5 after 15 minutes. The Lazers' eight goals came on just 12 shots on goal while Herkimer needed only seven to score its five.
But the scoring frenzy quickly subsided. Onondaga managed only two scores on 14 shots on goal in the second while Herkimer was shut out on just four shots on goal, and the Lazers only led 12-6 after the third. That middle-game defensive stretch included a scoreless drought of 18:24 for Onondaga and 33:44 for Herkimer thanks to outstanding goalie work by OCC's Jon Fiorillo and HCCC's Dan Solazzo, whose final numbers would have been better if not for a lifeless fourth-quarter offense that led to a lapsing defense and six straight Lazers goals to put the game away. Onondaga finished with 43 shots on goal to just 19 for Herkimer.
Onondaga's offense was led by Jerome Thompson's game-high nine points on five goals and four assists while Emmett Printup had three and two and Vinnie Alexander scored a hat trick. Herkimer was led by J.P. Finn with a goal and two assists, A.J. Vittorio scored two goals and defenseman Jeffrey Battaglini had a goal and an assist.
Solazzo finished with 28 saves and was named to the All-Tournament Team while Fiorillo made 16 and was named Tournament Most Valuable Player. Also making the All-Tournament Team were defenseman Wayne Best and midfielder Doug Hoch from Herkimer and midfielders Brendon Donovan, Corey Rich and Thompson and defenseman Ryan Leach from Onondaga.
The Lazers' five-year title streak comes on the heels of Herkimer's 21-year streak.