On Friday night, June 8th, 2012, the River Dell Hawks defeated the Clifton Mustangs on its home turf at DPAC in Oradell, to capture the State Championship in the Northeast Conference Tournament (NECT) of the North Jersey Junior Lacrosse League.
The NEC is comprised of 32 towns/programs. River Dell became one of three teams that shares the "State Champions" title in the NNJLL. A large championship trophy was presented to the team.
River Dell, comprised of boys from the towns of Oradell and River Edge, completed a perfect 4-0 run through the tournament to capture the 1st EVER championship of any kind, in any of its divisions, since the programs' inception just 6 short years ago. Clifton edged out River Dell in the same title game in 2009 on its own field.
The current 8th grade River Dell players were a team that just two years compiled a 4-12 record to a team this year which had only 3 total losses all season. The game itself on Friday was a true testament to the boys hard work, perseverance, and commitment to each other in a game that was exciting for all in attendance.
The game was tied 5-5 at halftime as Clifton rallied from a 5-2 deficit with just 4 minutes to go before the first half ended. The second half saw Clifton take a brief 7-6 lead, its first lead of the game, before the Hawks quickly answered to tie the game, and then pulled in front to never relinquish the lead again. As the clock ticked down with about 2 minutes to go in the game and River Dell leading by 11-9, the Hawks controlled the possession to run out the clock and claim the championship.
As the team and the younger boys and girls in the River Dell lacrosse program poured onto the field at the final horn to celebrate the big win, good sportsmanship prevailed all around. Clifton was certainly a great competitor and deserves equal praise for making it to the final game. For River Dell, hopefully this championship is the first of many to come for a program that is still relatively in its infancy. Congratulations to all the boys on a fantastic season.