May 10, 2009

Thompson Brothers Lead Onondaga to NJCAA Title

by J. Jude Hazard | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

OCC Women Make It a Junior College Sweep

Onondaga midfielder Jeremy Thompson makes a move on the cage en route to a three-goal performance Sunday in the Lazers' 9-8 win over defending champ Nassau in the NJCAA men's lacrosse championship game.

© Greg Wall

HERKIMER, N.Y. -- "National champs, son!"

Onondaga Community College midfielder Adam Traynor said it all during a postgame celebration with teammate Desi Gonzales. The Lazers are NJCAA men's lacrosse champions again.

Onondaga got two goals and two assists from Jerome Thompson and three goals from his brother, Jeremy, to defeat defending national champion Nassau Community College, 9-8, on Sunday at a brisk and windy Wehrum Stadium.

"What a feeling it is for these guys," Onondaga coach Chuck Wilber said. "Our slogan all year has been ‘deserve it,' and today, they deserved it."

Nassau (14-5) had a 2-1 lead after the first quarter, but the Lazers scored four unanswered second-quarter goals and went into halftime leading 5-3.

In a game in which most goals were scored in bunches, Onondaga maintained a slim lead throughout the second half. Lions midfielder Shannon Robinson drove across the front of the goal and scored from close range with 4:01 left in the game, cutting the Lazers' lead to 9-8.

But the Thompson brothers controlled the possession for Onondaga in the last four minutes and never gave the Lions another chance to get back into the game.

"We're going to put it in those two sticks and see what they can do with it," Wilbur said. "Nassau is so talented offensively. We didn't want to give them another touch."

The Lazers finished the season 16-0 and have won three of the last four NJCAA national championships.

Both Thompson brothers hope to someday play at Syracuse. Jerome said he is waiting for his grades this semester to learn if he'll have NCAA eligibility, while Jeremy has a few more classes to take before he could be eligible.

"It was a good experience being here. I'm just glad to be where I am right now," Jerome Thompson said after hugs and photographs with friends, family and fans. "I'm grateful for everything that has come at me."

Onondaga posted 22 ground balls to Nassau's 11, and also outshot the Lions 20-16. Nassau coach Rich Speckmann said his team didn't handle Onondaga's defensive pressure very well.

"We turned the ball over too many times," he said. "They're a very talented team."

Onondaga's Ed Prevost, who will play for North Carolina next season, had three shots on the afternoon. He was hit hard by a Nassau player with 9:02 left in the game and was down on the field for about 30 seconds before standing up and walking off unassisted.

After the game, Jeremy Thompson was named offensive most valuable player for the tournament. Four Lazers and three Lions were named to the all-tournament team, including Jerome Thompson and Onondaga goalie Jon Fiorillo, who had 26 saves in two games on the weekend.

"We knew we were going to meet them at the end of the year," Jerome Thompson said. "I just knew I had to have a big game."

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