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Danes slay Dragons in red hot start

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ALBANY, N.Y. — Houston, we have lift off. The University at Albany men’s lacrosse team started their 2018 campaign 2-0 after defeating the Drexel Dragons 18-5 at Casey Stadium on Saturday.

The No. 2 ranked Danes have now outscored their opponents 33-8 on the season and have won 32 more faceoffs than they’ve lost in the process.

Three different UAlbany players recorded a hat trick in the game, including number one recruit and freshman phenom Tehoka Nanticoke. Since joining the team, Nanticoke has averaged four goals a game and has brought an unmatched presence to the UAlbany offense.

“It was nice to play in front of the crowd here,” said Nanticoke, who played in his first regular season game at Casey Stadium. “It was a lot more than I expected.”

Senior attacker Connor Fields got the party started early scoring a goal 41 seconds into the game. Fields finished with two goals on the day, but an even more impressive seven assists. The offense was flowing through his stick and he spread the ball around as 10 different Great Danes netted a goal.

“The ball is definitely going to go through him. I think eventually it will start going through Tehoka a little bit just to take some off of Connor,” said UAlbany Head Coach Scott Marr. “When you have a player like that you have to take advantage of it. LeBron James got the ball. Michael Jordan got the ball. You’ve got to give the ball to your best players.”

Fields had a career year last year and the senior attacker has only gotten better this season because there are so many other talented players on this roster.

“We like to get everyone involved and like we’ve said we have a lot of weapons,” said Fields. “It’s really nice to have this year and we feel like our offense can be very dangerous if we play at our potential.”

The reason why the Danes got on the board so often was because they had the ball for much of the game. It started up front. The Danes won 25-of-27 faceoffs and that was due large in part to TD Ierlan. The sophomore faceoff specialist won 21-of-22 faceoffs on Saturday and is 37-for-43 on the season. The 86 percent win rate that Ierlan brings to the table is the best in the nation and gives the Danes a major advantage over any opponent.

“The wings did a great job. They gave me space to win it to myself,” said Ierlan. “We kind of knew that that was the game plan going into today because their wings like to crash really hard on me and it would have been tough to get the ball to my wings. So they just gave me a lot of space and everything was clicking.”

The game was pretty much decided as the teams headed for the break. The Danes scored four goals before Drexel even had a possession. They started the game on a 6-0 run and took a 16-2 lead into halftime.

“The fact that we were up 4-0 before they [Drexel] touched that ball was amazing,” said Marr. “That’s a nice luxury to have.”

The game plan that was put into place worked to perfection and the Danes had a chance to get their backups in for most of the second half. That’s the only time in the game that UAlbany struggled on both sides of the ball. The Dragons scored three goals in the fourth period in what some would call “garbage time.”

“In lacrosse if you want to be a championship team everyone has to perform,” said Marr.

He admitted that the team as a whole still has things that they need to work on, but they are definitely off to a red hot start.

Looking forward, the Danes play host to Cornell this Saturday at Casey Stadium for their second of back-to-back home games. The Big Red fell to the No. 20 ranked Colgate Raiders 14-11 last week and could prove to be a tough out for the Danes.

“Cornell is probably harder than everyone that we play,” Marr said.  “We focus on one game at a time and Cornell is next on our schedule and we are going to focus on Cornell.”

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John C. Longton III is the sports editor of the Albany Student Press. He previously served as sports editor for Hudson Valley Community College's student newspaper, the Hudsonian. Longton also works for Townsquare Media, the Albany Patroons, and runs his own podcast weekly, Rated R Sports.

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