Dane Train Rolls Over No. 19 Harvard
ALBANY, N.Y. — The UAlbany men’s lacrosse team got off to a slow start, but broke free in the second half on their way to a 14-6 win over No. 19 Harvard in front of a crowd of 2,283 at Casey Stadium on Wednesday.
The Danes scored two goals a minute and a half into the game and it seemed as if the route was going to be on and then in a blink of an eye everything changed.
Senior star attacker Connor Fields was involved in a collision with a Harvard defensemen and collapsed to the ground. He jumped up and hobbled over to the sideline favoring the same knee that he had injured his last time out that kept him off the field in the second half in the game against UMass Lowell.
Fields came back into the game after being sidelined for a good chunk of the first quarter. The injury hampered his play and the Tewaaraton watch list candidate was more of a decoy rather than a factor.
The Crimson took advantage and limited the Danes to only four first half goals. If it hadn’t been for J.D. Colarusso’s 11 save performance this could have easily been a different story.
“J.D. was solid in the net,” said UAlbany head coach Scott Marr. “When we’re struggling on offense and you can rely on the other end that makes us a tough team to play right now.”
UAlbany held Harvard to only two first half goals and limited their mistakes on defense while they were trying to figure things out on the offensive side of the ball.
Fields was shut down in the second half and the Danes had to make do without their leading scorer and field general. Senior attacker Justin Reh filled Field’s shoes. Reh had a hat trick and looked very comfortable in the Dane’s offense.
“It’s definitely hard losing your top player on your team,” said Reh. “We obviously faced adversity in that first quarter.”
The Danes settled down in the second half and looked more like the No. 1 ranked team they’ve been all season. The Dane train got rolling in the third quarter and UAlbany ripped off five goals in the period. Eight different players netted a goal in the game, four of which had multiple goals.
The most spectacular goal of the game came out of the stick of a UAlbany defensemen. With just about nine minutes to play, junior defender Matt Perla had the ball and was running up the field from about 50-yards away. That’s when he noticed the Harvard goalkeeper was playing too far up and he threw up a Hail Mary that found its way in the back of the net. It was his first collegiate goal, let alone point.
“I honestly heard coach say shoot it so I shot it and I got a little lucky and it went in,” said Perla. When asked when the last time he scored a goal Perla chuckled, “Junior year of high school.”
The Danes faced and overcame adversity against a 7-1 Harvard team that gave them fits. It was a good test for a team that’s off to their best start since winning the first 11 games of the 2007 season. There are still questions about Fields that won’t be answered right away, but Marr thinks that he will be ok.
“He could play, but he wasn’t 100-percent to play,” said Marr. We’ve practiced with Justin [Reh] in his spot just in case we needed him.”
Fields met with a trainer on the sideline during the game and was cleared to play, but he and Marr decided to shut him down to prevent any long term damage.
“Start of the third quarter he [Fields] felt ok and kind of looked at me and we made the decision we were better off just taking him out right now,” said Marr.
Marr needs Fields for the long run if this team wants to compete for a national championship. There are five games remaining in the regular season for the Danes. This Saturday they will host a Stony Brook team that have won their last two games in-a-row. After that they will have a bye week and a chance for Fields and anyone else on the team that is nicked up to get healthy.