Article by Logan Riley & Photography by Eddie Kraus | Owl Staff
Harford ‘s Lacrosse team won the first ever National Title-Headline.
Winning a championship for the first time is a feeling like no other. The Harford Men’s Lacrosse team earned that feeling on Sunday May 14th, 2023, when they defeated Nassau by a score of 13-8 in the NJCAA final.
Harford hosted the NJCAA Championship from May 12th to May 14th. Four teams entered the running, in order of seeding: Harford, Nassau, Onondaga, and Essex.
The undefeated Harford team was the crowd favorite going into the tournament, trying to capture their first-ever national championship.
“We see ourselves as the hunters, not the hunted,” explains Harford Lacrosse Coach, Aaron Verardi.
The first semifinal between Harford and Essex was a close and heated match with both teams trading goals leading up to the final period where the score was 6-4 Harford. Harford’s offense took the lead outscoring Essex 5-2, allowing Harford to get the 11-6 win.
Forward Xan Hayes, who had five goals, including two behind-the-back goals in the 4th quarter, helped Harford pull away in the 4th, putting the game out of reach for Essex.
“I’ve been practicing them all week,” states Hayes. “I figured if there’s a time to pull it off it might as well be now.”
The other semifinal was between Nassau and Onondaga. This was another close game going into the second half tied at 3-3. However, Nassau was able to get a substantial lead halfway through the 4th quarter. Onondaga fought back, but Nassau held the lead, ending the game 10-8.
Harford and Nassau, the top 2 seeds, made the finals. The stage was set, with a championship title on the line.
The first quarter was highly contested. Both teams had strong showings but Harford was able to get ahead with a 4-2 lead. The second quarter was more defensive, with Harford still holding on to a 2-point lead.
Heading into the second half at 5-3, Harford didn’t let up. The team outscored Nassau 6-3 in the third quarter, and held them off in the fourth to finish the game 13-8, winning their first ever national championship.
Forward Dylan Tomarchio, who led Harford in scoring with 5 goals in the national championship, shed some light on the team’s pivotal third quarter, and how they were thinking going in.
“I didn’t even know how many points I had, but we were just on a roll,” states Tomarchio. “After halftime, it’s 0-0, we don’t play the game any different. It’s just like any other game.”
The crowd was ecstatic to see Harford win their first title. Students, parents, friends, alumni, everyone was there cheering their team on.
“We are just a family,” says defenseman Shaine Luzietti. “We love each other, we play for each other, we just want to make all the alumni proud. We really wanted this one, so we had to clamp down.”
Goalie Alex Epple, one of Harford’s best performing players, attributes his relationship with his defense for helping secure a win. “I get the best looks out there that a goalie could ask for because of my defense.”
Then the tournament’s coach, Harford’s Aaron Verardi, spoke on how his team took over the second half: “We just kept doing what we’re doing. We saw a few defensive weaknesses to take advantage of and we’re finally burying them.”
This will be a day that players, coaches, parents, fans, and alumni will never forget. Your first national title means so much to all involved, and it meant so much to them. This fateful game will go down in Harford Sports history.