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Men’s Lacrosse pulls away to knock out Hartford

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By Andrew Hughes

Staff Writer

sports.asp@gmail.com

April 30, 2015

Photo by Aaron Cheris.  UAlbany had a strong second half to knock out Hartford on Thursday.
Photo by Aaron Cheris.
UAlbany had a strong second half to get the win at home  on Thursday.

Though the final score reads 15-6 in favor of the University at Albany men’s lacrosse team, the box score does not tell the whole story of the game.

For the first quarter of play, it looked as though the Great Danes and Hartford Hawks would be playing a closely contested battle, with the Great Danes up just one after 15 minutes.

Even after the first half, the Great Danes (14-2) were up by three, but they still didn’t seem to have control of the game, allowing the inferior Hawks (7-8) to stay within reach.

After a five goal period in the third quarter, though, it was clear that UAlbany was on its way to an America East championship clash with a Stony Brook team that had just defeated Vermont 16-13 in the other America East semifinals matchup on Thursday night.

The Hawks controlled the pace in the opening quarter, keeping the ball away from UAlbany’s offensive attack that ranks first in the nation in goals scored per game.

Connor Fields finally notched the game’s first goal with 11:53 left in the first quarter. Justin Huggins evened the score a minute later and Kyle McClancy put UAlbany up at the 8:40 mark. Huggins notched a second goal with 2:38 left, and Lyle Thompson notched his first of four goals with just less than two minutes in the opening quarter.

Bennett Drake gave the Great Danes a 4-2 lead before Hartford senior and First Team All America East Conference member Kevin O’Shea notched two goals within 20 seconds of each other to tie the game at four. Seth Oakes put the Great Danes up for good at the 8:11 mark of the second quarter and Lyle Thompson added two more to give the Great Danes a 7-4 lead at the half.

Tim Cox scored his first goal of the game to open up the second half, bringing the Great Danes lead to 8-4. However, Griffin Feiner answered two minutes later to bring the score back to within three. The Great Danestook over from their though, going on a 7-1 run to end the half and secure their spot in the America East Championship game.

The game got physical just a minute into the fourth quarter as a brawl ensued behind UAlbany’s net. Three players were penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, with Jaedon Henderson of Hartford, and Cody Kilcoyne and James Burdette of UAlbany being sent off for their role in the skirmish.

In the end though, it was the defense continuing their string of great efforts led by goalie Blaze Riorden. Coach Scott Marr praised his team’s defensive prowess.

“Our defense is playing like a unit. We had good individuals, but now they understand each others movement,” Marr said. “Blaze [Riorden] was the best player on the field on the defensive side, and Lyle [Thompson] was on the offensive side.”

Thompson had a strong game as well. He scored five goals and four assists and extended his Division I all-time record for points in a career. It took some time for the team to get going offensively, though.

“We knew offensively we had to play a little more structured, less chaos and just play our game,” Thompson said.

Once the team started running through Thompson, the Great Danes pulled away for good.

“Anytime it’s a good game like tonight, our offense looks to me to initiate the offense,” Thompson gave Blaze Riorden his due for carrying the defense with nine saves. With a chuckle, Thompson added, “Blaze is going to make his saves, but tonight he made saves he shouldn’t have made.”

The Great Danes move on to the America East Championship game this Saturday with the win over Hartford. Their opponent is the No. 16 ranked Stony Brook Seawolves, who the Great Danes defeated in a thriller, 17-15 at Stony Brook earlier in the season.

Lyle Thompson isn’t looking past the Seawolves, who stand in the way of a third straight America East championship for UAlbany.

When asked about the matchup, Thompson said, “We’re expecting a good game from Stony Brook. They’re a top 20 team and we need to respect that.”

The America East championship game will be this Saturday, May 2, at Bob Ford Field at 10 a.m. The game will be shown live nationally on ESPNU.

Photo by Aaron Cheris. Hartford could do little to stop UAlbany's potent offensive attack.
Photo by Aaron Cheris. Hartford could do little to stop UAlbany’s potent offensive attack.

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