Monumental win shakes NCAA lax landscape
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Sometimes it takes a bully to beat a bully. That’s what happened on Saturday when the #3 ranked University at Albany men’s lacrosse team knocked off #8 Syracuse 15-3 in front of a lively crowd of 7,238 in the Carrier Dome.
It was the second time in program history that the Great Danes beat the Orange, with the last coming in 2013.
Last year the Danes lost 10-9 to the Orange in the opening game of the season, with the deciding goal coming in the last seconds for Syracuse. UAlbany was just that close to knocking off a perennial power and elevating their program just a season ago.
With the addition of number one recruit in the nation, Tehoka Nanticoke, this year it was a level playing field, but surprisingly a lopsided affair.
Nanticoke scored five goals in his collegiate debut. The 6’1” 235 lb freshman seemed unstoppable as he bullied his way toward the Syracuse goal. On several occasions the oversized attackman drew double and triple teams from the Orange defenders, but that didn’t stop him from overpowering his way to the goal. With the combination of his size and ubove average stick handles, Nanticoke put the Danes on his back and created a ripple in the men’s college lacrosse landscape.
Listening to @AnishESPN compare @Tehoka1 to a triceratops and talk about his #SCtop10 one-handed between the leg goals was one of my favorite STAT Sports moments on @wcdb. You won’t be disappointed. Full interview: https://t.co/UlW225FwII @UAlbanySports @UAlbanyMLax @1045TheTeam pic.twitter.com/fZh9shoMtA
— Rob Lepelstat (@RobLep23) February 25, 2018
“He’s a big boy so that’s one thing. The ability with his stick is really good. When you combine that with his big body is he’s really hard to control,” said Syracuse junior defensemen Tyson Bomberry, who drew the tough task of defending the freshman phenom.
The Great Danes have been trounced by the Orange traditionally and have only defeated the Orange once in 16 tries coming into Saturday’s matchup. The Syracuse men’s lacrosse team has never taken the trip down I-90 to play the Danes at UAlbany. Every time the two teams have squared off have been in the Carrier Dome, a place where 1,000 plus UAlbany fans traveled to this past week.
“I would like to say thank you to all of the people from Albany that drove out to our game,” said UAlbany Head Coach Scott Marr. “The crowd support we had was unreal. It just gave us a lot of energy. So I really appreciate those people taking the ride across I-90 watching us play today and really give us support.”
The Danes only trailed once in the game and that was when Syracuse attackman Jamie Trimboli netted a goal assisted by teammate Matt Lane with 11:50 in the 1st quarter. From there the Danes scored seven unanswered goals, kicked off by Jakob Patterson, who flung in four goals on the day.
TD Ierlan made quick work of the second goal when he won the ensuing faceoff, raced down the field, put a move on a defender and shot the ball in the net only taking eight seconds off the clock. This gave the Danes a lot of confidence and when they took the lead they played with the presence that not only did they deserve to be there, but they were just the all-around better team.
The Danes took a 4-1 lead to the break, but the scoreboard was kinder to the Orange than the actual game in the first half.
The third quarter is where the Danes put their stamp on the game. They outscored the Orange 7-1 in the period and Nanticoke scored four of his five goals in those 15 minutes alone. One of which was a behind the back shot that he one-hopped into the back of the net. Nanticoke’s creativity gives him a lot of opportunities that a traditional player would not see on the field.
Team caption Connor Fields picked up where he left off in the 2017 campaign. The senior attacker scored back-to-back goals in the 3rd quarter that were less than a minute away from each other to push the Danes’ lead to 10-2. He also had two assists on the day. Fields knifed his way in front of the ‘Cuse goal and when the Orange defense collapsed to defend him, Fields flipped the ball behind his back to Kyle McClancy who ripped a shot in for a score.
“I felt like I took my opportunities I had. I feel like I can improve a lot and I’m glad to be here for the next four years,” said Nanticoke.
It was the first time that Connor Fields and the rest of the senior class on the team defeated the Orange and it was a big step for the program and a great way to kick of the 2018 campaign.
“Our senior class we were 0-4 coming into this game against Syracuse. We think this is a big step for our team and we’re just trying to gain momentum off of it,” said Fields
“It’s my freshman year getting my first win. And getting these guys that first win against Syracuse I think it means a lot just to be able to be here and help them out,” said Nanticoke.
“It was a great win for sure to get off to 1-0 and beat Syracuse for the second time in our program history, but at the same time we’re just going to keep working and keep building for the next game,” said Marr.
That game is this Saturday when the UAlbany hosts Drexel for a game at Casey Stadium that starts at noon. Last year the Danes pummeled the Dragons 19-8 and this year they are looking to build on their momentum they established this past Saturday.
“Our offense is still progressing. I don’t think we’re quite there yet. I think we still have to figure some things out and get a little more flow to our game,” said Marr. “We’ll certainly enjoy the win, but we have Drexel this Saturday and that’s just one of 15 games on our schedule.”