Connor Fields learning from the best
By Celia Balf
April 21, 2015
Lyle Thompson has possession of the ball behind the net, eye contact is latched and the ball flings perfectly into the stick of freshman Connor Fields. A behind the back shot, and the ball finds the back of the net.
Chemistry in the attack line is everything for the University at Albany men’s lacrosse team. Coming out of last season where chemistry was something family born for the Thompsons, the Danes had to re-build a system of trust for Lyle and the attack line. Lyle no longer had his brother, Miles, and cousin Ty to work with. Rather, he was the lone Thompson put into a situation where his leadership would be tested, and required for the success of the program.
Luckily, Lyle took this responsibility in stride. He in particular took younger Connor Fields under his wing, spending the months anticipating the season building chemistry.
Fields is a freshman attack player out of East Amherst, N.Y. Out of high school, he was ranked second in the state of New York by MaxPreps, and 15th overall recruit of the class of 2014 by Inside Lacrosse. Fields was a two-year high school All-American, and one of the top scorers in the nation netting a total of 129 goals as a junior, and 108 as a senior. His high school success has translated into college where already as a freshman he has made an immediate impact.
Fields can be seen in the position UAlbany lacrosse fans may remember Ty Thompson filling for the Danes last season. Fields averages 3.25 goals per game, ranking him seventh in the country. Fields is now a contributing force to the number one scoring offense in all of Division I. Everyone can see his confidence from the stands watching. The flare and technique of Fields game is impressive. So is his humility.
He admits that adjusting to this level of playing was challenging. “It was a much faster pace then high school, but as time went on I started getting used to the pace. It helped that my teammates were all guiding me and helping me when I needed,” Fields said.
The main guidance for Fields came from Lyle, along with Miles who helps out with the team when he can while finishing up his degree at UAlbany.
“Lyle and Miles were there working with me and really answering all the questions I had about where to be and the offense and things like that. Also the upperclassman really bonded with us and made us feel at home,” Fields said.
The team is constantly seen around campus around one another. They take classes together, eat together, play volleyball on Dutch Quad together and even have built a routine of going bowling during free weeknights. The freshman are quickly integrated into this family atmosphere, and players like Lyle take a lot of pride and responsibility in making sure the off-the-field chemistry is there so once game time comes, it’s natural to play beside one another.
“I know that chemistry is a huge part of the game and I have been trying to build chemistry with Fields since the fall,” Lyle Thompson said. “We do stuff like bowling, dinner and just hanging out on Indian Quad with him, and I thought that it was important for us to get used to being together so I made sure he was my roommate on the road trips and seat partner on bus trips.”
For Lyle, lacrosse is a way of life. And as a senior, he understands that now his duty is beyond individual success, but to teach and guide younger players like Fields into the future of this program. This isn’t to undermine the fact that Lyle just recently became the all-time leading scorer in NCAA DI men’s lacrosse.
Lyle’s personal success and contribution to grooming young players like Fields is something the UAlbany men’s lacrosse program will always cherish. Fields believes the best thing about playing for this team is playing with Lyle and being part of a team as close as they are. He also values the coaching staff and their trust in each player.
“They let you play your game and they know everybody makes mistakes so if you make a bad play or miss an easy shot, they don’t really yell at you for it, they just say next play and try to get you to forget about that play,” Fields said. “It’s just a great experience to be on a team like this.”
Upperclassmen like standout midfielder Matt Garziano have seen the relationship develop between Thompson and Fields, and have welcomed the change. Garziano is in his senior year for the Great Danes and has 16 points on the season. As a midfielder he has transitioned from linking the Thompson trio to now linking Fields and Thompson into the play off of transition.
“Connor is a great player on the field. He puts in a lot of effort and is always in the right spot. Him and Lyle have built a trusting relationship on the field,” Garziano said. “He has become a huge scorer after losing so many from recent graduates.”
Fields said one of his biggest challenges joining the Great Danes and coming to UAlbany was being away from home for such long periods of time. He said the welcome he got from the team and Lyle in particular helped with the transition. “I think he has what it takes to be a first team All-American attack man. I’ll always be there for him if he needs anything.” Lyle Thompson said.
Thompson saying, “I’ll always be there for him,” speaks volumes of the UAlbany men’s lacrosse program. The bond these young men have goes far beyond the field, locker room and weight room.