Former Mills, St. Paul standouts help USJ men’s lacrosse capture GNAC crown

The University of Saint Joseph men’s lacrosse team won the Great Northeast Athletic Conference championship on Saturday, and two locals played a big role in the victory.

The Blue Jays downed the Bulldogs of Dean College, 13-12, at the USJ Lacrosse Field in West Hartford. USJ captured its first title in the history of the program, which began in 2019-20. The victory gets the team into the NCAA Division III tournament as the GNAC’s automatic qualifier. They will find out where and when they play during the selection show Sunday at 9 p.m. on

Senior Evan Baden and junior Christian Decker were two of the four Blue Jays named to the GNAC All-Tournament Team. Senior goalkeeper Trey McCann was named the GNAC Tournament Most Valuable Player. Baden, an attackman, is a former Lewis Mills standout. Decker, a midfielder, is a former St. Paul standout. Baden is from Burlington while Decker hails from Bristol.

Baden torched the net for four goals while Decker scored twice. Junior attackman Evan Zimnoch of Southington, another former St. Paul standout, added a goal. Freshman midfielder Mike Decker, who also played at St. Paul, recorded two ground balls. Senior Nicholas Romano of Harwinton, who suited up for Lewis Mills, also saw action in the championship game.

For the season, Christian Decker leads USJ (16-3) in goals with 45, and Baden is third with 39. Christian Decker is third in points with 55 while Baden is fourth with 46. Zimnoch has 19 goals on the season.

Caption: Evan Baden (#6), seen here battling St. Paul in the 2018 WCLC championship game while playing for Lewis Mills, helped the University of Saint Joseph men’s lacrosse team capture the GNAC championship on Saturday. (Sports on CT-69 file photo)