ROSEDALE, MD -- Sophomore Dylan McCleaft (Penncrest) added to his team-leading goal count last night with a hat trick and freshman Collin Stasch (North County) had one of his own as CCBC Essex defeated Northern Virginia 13-2 in a lightning shortened, home finale, sophomore night contest.
McCleaft, one of 12 sophomores or graduates honored in a pregame ceremony, has now scored 24 goals this season. He is tied for 16th in the conference.
The Knights (9-5, 5-2 Region XX) began the game slowly from a scoring standpoint. Although they had plenty of chances early, their lead was just 2-1 after the first quarter.
McCleaft got the Knights on the board 5:32 seconds into the game. Kevin Doherty (Chantilly) got the assist, a rare feat for a long pole.
The Nighthawks (1-6, 0-5 Region XX) answered 30 seconds later when freshman Grant Covert (Westfield) scored his seventh goal of the season.
It remained deadlocked at one for just over six minutes.
Knights' sophomore Dustin Stone (Eastern Technical) scored his 16th goal of the season to put Essex up 2-1. Stone would later add two assists, increasing his team-high points total to 34.
CCBC Essex picked up the pace a bit in the second quarter.
Freshman Shane Hanlon (Marvin Ridge) scored 4:24 into the second and McCleaft added his second at the 6:27 mark.
Stasch scored his first and second goals at 9:57 and 14:09, respectively.
Sandwiched between Stasch's pair, the Nighthawks' Neil Barron (Briar Woods) scored his fourth goal of the season.
The Knights led 6-2 at halftime.
After a first half of wide shots and metal shots - the Knights hit a post or cross bar five times - CCBC Essex wasted no time scoring in the third quarter.
The Knights lead grew to 10-2 after just three minutes of play into the second half.
McCleaft completed his hat trick 40 seconds into the third frame and sophomore Mike Marsden (E. Forsyth) notched his first goal of the season (11th career) at 1:20.
Stasch got his third on an assist from Stone at 2:28 and sophomore Wes Rumple (Fallston) scored at the 2:48 mark.
At 11:02, Hanlon scored his second of the game.
Sophomore Ralph Ruggiero scored two goals at the end of the third that would cap the scoring.
The Knights led 13-2 when the fourth quarter began. At the 1:26 mark, lightning forced officials to end the game.
One Last Home Game
Last night marked the last time that 12 student athletes (listed below) played as a member of the Knights at home. In lieu of the home starting lineup, those members were honored in a pregame ceremony.
Knights' head coach Tim King had this to say about his dozen sophomores and graduates:
"As the coach of this team, I would like to personally thank these sophomores for sticking it out this year. It says a lot about their character, commitment to themselves, and the Essex program.
We had a different road to travel than in past years, and while there are no awards for what you have done, the effects of your humble and courageous commitment has been felt across the junior college landscape; hopefully, to be forever changed.
Every future Knight shall play in the gratitude of your efforts this year, and I am proud to be your coach."