Fields’ Heroics Not Enough to Beat Maryland
With chance to send game to overtime, UAlbany falls short in thriller vs. Maryland
Connor Fields fell to his knees next to the goal, looking helpless and vulnerable more than any other time in his career.
For the second time this season, the University at Albany lost by one goal to a top-five power. This time, Maryland got the best of UAlbany, beating the Great Danes 12-11 in front of a raucous crowd of 3,093 people at Casey Stadium on Wednesday night.
Often underestimated because of weaker nonconference schedules and a lack of postseason wins, UAlbany did its best on Wednesday to prove the naysayers wrong. Only it wasn’t enough to oust the Terrapins, who entered the game ranked No. 3 in the nation.
“We’re not in the business right now of moral victories,” head coach Scott Marr said after the game. “But it does show that we can play with the top teams in the country. I think we proved to the rest of the country that we certainly can hang with anyone.”
And per usual, the Danes were led by Fields. The junior attackman, the leading scorer in the nation, tallied eight points on the day despite seeing double teams and constant pressure from Maryland’s Tim Muller.
During the final timeout, with UAlbany down 12-11 with 10 seconds left, Marr told Fields to go make a play to tie the game and send it into overtime. Fields tried working his magic one more time. Despite tight pressure, Fields managed to send a pass to Justin Reh, who led UAlbany with four goals on the day. Reh’s shot was blocked, and then the horn sounded.
UAlbany executed its game plan. The Danes slowed the game down when they wanted to. They let Fields use his vision and passing abilities to be the chief distributor. Freshman faceoff specialist TD Ierlan struggled in the second quarter (2-for-7) but rebounded in the second half by going 9 of 13. UAlbany had fewer turnovers and attempted six more shots. Their defense hounded Maryland’s Matt Rambo, who leads the Big Ten in points and assists. But still, UAlbany fell short again to an elite opponent.
“They’re skilled. They play hard and they’re a tough team,” Maryland head coach John Tillman said. “That team with that offense? That team has potential to do a lot of damage.”
They’re not in the business of moral victories, but UAlbany will take away a lot from the game. Marr said Fields proved he belongs in the conversation of the best attackman in the country. He was proud of his team’s attitude and ability to battle back from a three goal deficit in the second half. He feels UAlbany earned the respect of the nation. And so does Fields.
“We learned a lot about our team. We battled through that,” Fields said. “When a top team has runs like that, you can either collapse or stick with ‘em. Just a few more things and we can win that game.”
UAlbany plays Binghamton next Wednesday before hosting Yale for the annual Spring Stomp event on April 22. A game against Hartford the following Saturday rounds out the regular season. Then the Danes will start their playoff run, hoping to first take care of business in the America East and later find themselves matched up with another top-five power.
And should that happen, UAlbany will know they’re capable of playing with that team.