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2018 Men’s Lacrosse Year in Review: #70 NJIT Highlanders

For the third straight year, the Highlanders won just one game.

Mike McLaughlin/Photography for NJIT Athletics

With the 2018 college lacrosse season complete, it’s time to start looking back at how all 71 teams did during the season, as well as what to expect from each squad for 2019.

We already started looking ahead to 2019 with what to expect from St. Bonaventure and Utah, the two new teams coming into the Division I Men’s Lacrosse world, and officially began the series with our review of Hampton. So with that, let’s continue the recaps!

#70 NJIT Highlanders

Conference: Independent
2018 Record: 1-15
Head coach: Travis Johnson (4th Year)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Aaron Forster (30)
Assists: Aaron Forster (13)
Points: Aaron Forster (43)
Faceoffs: Adam Gonzalez (91-of-209; 43.5%)
Ground balls: John Tachon (94)
Caused turnovers: John Tachon (18)
Goals against average: Nick Marzullo (12.48 GAA)
Save percentage: Nick Marzullo (47.8%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: G Nick Marzullo (12.48 GAA, 47.8% save percentage), D Matthew Valdez (35 GBs, 17 CTs)
Senior scoring departing: 3 of 168 points (1.8%)
Senior starts lost: 30 of 160 (18.8%)

Season Summary

For the third consecutive season, the Highlanders won one game. It came against Hampton for the second straight season. In four seasons, NJIT has won three games, two against Hampton and one against Dartmouth back in 2016. So if you exclude Hampton, the Highlanders have lost their last 34 games. That’s not good.

Six of their losses came within five goals (Lehigh, Lafayette, Delaware, VMI, Fairfield, Wagner). They have played competitively at times, yet have ended up on the wrong end of boxscores against “regular” Division I teams.

However, the Highlanders do have three stud players worth noting. The first two are junior attackmen Aaron Forster and Cole Robillard, both of whom are from Canada. Forster led the team in goals and points for the second straight season. He scored four fewer goals than a year ago, but equaled his point total from his sophomore campaign.

Robillard was a transfer from Assumption College School in Canada and was a good counterpart to Forster. He was second on the team with 20 goals and 27 points in his first year playing Division I lacrosse.

On defense, sophomore defenseman John Tachon is their best defender. He recorded 94 ground balls and 18 caused turnovers and even scored a pair of goals and an assist in his second season. They’ll need him to lead younger defensemen moving forward in his following two seasons.

Looking Ahead

Obviously this team needs to win more than one game in a season, and it can’t be against Hampton. Sure keep playing them, but the Highlanders need to find wins somewhere and pull through. Usually Year 4 is the breakthrough year for a program. That didn’t show for NJIT.

The Highlanders do have to figure out who will replace Nick Marzullo in goal. Alexzander Hunt started two games and played in eight total, facing 173 shots. He’ll be a sophomore from Severna Park, so my guess is he’ll be the lead dog in the race. But the ultimate goal is to win more than one game next season. They’ll also be able to play at the new Lubetkin Field at Mal Simon Stadium when it opens in the fall.

One other question revolves around conference affiliation. NJIT is a member of the Atlantic Sun conference, which includes Jacksonville, a member of the Southern Conference. Wouldn’t it make sense of the Highlanders joined the SoCon? That is, if the conference accepts their membership.

Here’s who the Highlanders will be adding to their roster for next year.*

NJIT’s Unofficial Class of 2018

Player Position High School
Player Position High School
Jonathan Agness Attack Spencerport (NY)
Jacob Baumgardt Defense Franklin (WI)
Matthew Bowerman Defense New Hanover (NC)
Joseph Covino Midfield Fair Lawn (NJ)
Keegan Ford Attack Mainland Regional (NJ)
Chris Giuliano Midfield Delaware Valley (NJ)
John Murray Defense Morris Knolls (NJ)
Xavier Ritter Midfield St. Peter's Prep (NJ)
Matthew Rueter Midfield/FOGO Holy Ghost Prep (PA)
Clayton Scott Midfield Peters Township (PA)
Tanner Scott Attack/Midfield Peters Township (PA)
Eric Sherman Attack Cherry Hill East (NJ)

*Compiled from a multitude of websites. Schools usually officially announce their recruiting class during the fall semester.


How many wins will NJIT get in 2019?

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  • 19%
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  • 47%
    (17 votes)
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    (6 votes)
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