Men’s Lacrosse stomps Yale in Top 10 Showdown
By Andrew Hughes
April 21, 2015
The University at Albany Great Danes and the Yale Bulldogs were separated by one spot in the Inside Lacrosse National Division I rankings heading into this game, with the Bulldogs, who are ranked seventh, ahead of the Great Danes, who are ranked eighth.
On Saturday, however, it was the Great Danes who finished ahead of the Bulldogs with a thrilling 12-11 victory at the first lacrosse game ever held at Bob Ford Field. The game broke the record for the most fans in attendance at a home lacrosse game in UAlbany history.
UAlbany began the game on fire, winning the first three face-offs and finishing all three possessions with a goal. The Great Danes defense shut out the Yale attack for the game’s first 11 and a half minutes before Yale was able to capitalize on a man-up attempt.
UAlbany’s defense prevented Yale from getting much going in the first half thanks in large part to great goaltending by Blaze Riorden.
Yale fired back in the second half, after only scoring three goals in the first half. Yale’s Eric Scott’s leaping goal fueled a 4-1 Yale run to cut the lead to 1, but Lyle Thompson closed out the third frame with a laser with just 2 seconds left on the clock, giving the Great Danes a 9-7 lead heading into the final frame.
The fourth quarter saw the Great Danes lose their lead after Yale’s Ben Reeves scored with 13:04 left in the game, giving the Bulldogs a 10-9 lead, their first of the entire game. Kyle McClancey knotted it up with a score following an inbounds play with 12:09 left to play. Tim Cox gave the Great Danes the lead with a little over 10 minutes left and Seth Oates followed that up with a spectacular shot through Yale Goalkeeper Eric Natale’s legs off of a Lyle Thompson assist with nine minutes remaining.
Yale made things interesting after Eric Scott made it a 12-11 game with 35 seconds left. Following a UAlbany faceoff win that resulted in a turnover, the Bulldogs had a chance to tie it with one last possession. Blaze Riorden, the hero of the game for UAlbany, made a game saving grab with 13 seconds remaining, sealing the win for UAlbany, who picked up their best win of the season over a higher seeded team.
Lyle Thompson, who broke the all-time record for career points during UAlbany’s win against Bryant this past Tuesday, moved into second place all time in career assists after tallying three in the first half. Following the game, Thompson gave credit to the defense. He said that their efforts could propel the team to greater heights than it has seen the past few seasons.
“We have confidence in our defense. That’s the biggest difference between this year and last year.”
UAlbany coach Scott Marr also lauded the defensive effort as well, saying that this year’s squad can make even more playoff noise.
“When it comes to the playoffs you need to know how to play defense. Defensively, we’ve grown so much,” Marr said.
Blaze Riorden was the leader of the defense, making one spectacular play after another. He mentioned that the team’s success comes from playing together, saying, “We’re not just six individuals and a goalie. We’ve come together defensively.”
The Great Danes played Saturday night’s game with a heavy heart, as they honored alumni and former player Dan Barnes, who recently passed away at the age of 30. The team paid tribute to Barnes by wearing the initials “DB” on their helmets.
Thompson found extra motivation in Barnes’s passing, citing the fact that he has kids of his own. He also found extra motivation through Saturday’s record-breaking crowd.
“Looking up at the crowd, that right there gets you going. Anytime you have something to play for, it just carries even more with it,” Thompson said.
Saturday night’s game was an instant classic. As Riorden put it, “The game of lacrosse was well represented tonight.”