UAlbany Wins America East Title with Stellar Team Effort
UAlbany's men's lacrosse team captures another America East title, qualifying the Danes for the NCAA Tournament.
ALBANY, N.Y.–On April 19, after beating Binghamton 10-4, Scott Marr gathered his team on the bus. His team’s effort didn’t satisfy him; he knew he could get more out of his players. They needed to avoid complacency.
The Great Danes certainly did on Saturday.
The University at Albany men’s lacrosse team (14-2, 7-0) pummeled Binghamton (11-5, 4-3) in a 20-8 massacre to win the America East Tournament for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
“This is what you work for. This is why you put in all the hours,” the UAlbany head coach said after the game. “When you hoist that trophy, they live with this for the rest of their lives. They’re the champions of 2017 and no one can take that away from them.”
All of the hours of preparation showed on Saturday as the Bearcats couldn’t stop the UAlbany offense. Clearly a 19-6 semifinals win against Stony Brook didn’t satisfy UAlbany, which boasts the top scoring offense in the nation (15.88 goals per game).
The Danes exploded out of the gates by scoring three goals in the first 1:53. Two came from the stick of midfielder Adam Osika, who is emerging as a candidate for the MLL Draft later this month. Binghamton cut the lead to 4-2 early in the second quarter after Tom Moore, Binghamton’s leading scorer, fired one past UAlbany goalkeeper JD Colarusso. The -2 deficit was the easiest the Bearcats would face all day. From then on, UAlbany attackman Connor Fields made sure his team wouldn’t give in to the complacency that Marr fears.
Fields was spectacular Saturday afternoon, scanning the field and hitting his teammates with lasers so they could finish the job. He scored nine points on the day, six of them coming via the assist. He and others helped spread the ball to Justin Reh, who finished with a game-high of five goals. Mitch Laffin put up a hat trick and Kyle McClancy, Sean Eccles, Bennett Drake, and Osika each chipped in two goals.
“It’s us playing Albany lacrosse and playing as a team,” Fields said with the America East trophy in front of him. “We’re balanced and spreading the ball and playing as a team out there.”
“When you have this many guys scoring and sharing the ball, it’s very difficult to stop,” Marr added. “Our depth is something that people are gonna have to be worried about.”
UAlbany will find out who those “people” will be on Sunday night during the NCAA Selection Show. The top eight of the 16 teams get a home game in the first round. As it stands, UAlbany is teetering on the edge. The selection committee doesn’t adhere to a specific process when it comes to choosing seeds every year, so it’s anyone’s guess as to where the Great Danes will play their next game.
Should the committee not grant UAlbany a home game, it’s a real possibility the Danes will travel to Johns Hopkins, where Marr’s son, Kyle, averages nearly two goals per game.
Whatever the committee decides, UAlbany is happy that it made the tournament and doesn’t need to worry about an at-large berth like it did in 2016. Reh said the Danes will be happy to play anywhere.
The team that plays UAlbany next will face a squad that’s red-hot, thanks in large part to scoring from a variety of players, increased distribution from Fields, and continued dominance from TD Ierlan, Division I’s top face-off specialist. All of these factors make UAlbany a dangerous team, something that couldn’t be said the last time the Danes faced Binghamton.
“The last time we played Binghamton, we had a heart-to-heart on the bus after the game,” Marr said. “It’s about the ‘we’. We started to stray away from that. We brought everybody back in to the circle and I think since then, we’ve been cooking.”
UAlbany has never advanced to a Final Four. With a wide-open field, it’s realistic to think the high-octane Great Danes could make it to Philadelphia—the site of the Final Four—in 2017.
To do that, it won’t be on the shoulders of Fields. Nor Ierlan’s.
It will be on the shoulders of the “we.”