UAlbany Wins Trap Game with Maryland Matchup Looming
In the final tune-up before its highly anticipated matchup with No. 6 Maryland on Wednesday, the University at Albany men’s lacrosse team took care of business on Saturday, beating UMBC 10-5 on a sunny afternoon at John Fallon Field.
The Great Danes, known for their high-powered offensive attack led mostly by juniors Connor Fields and Justin Reh, along with freshman Jakob Patterson, were forced to slow the pace thanks to UMBC’s zone defense. The Retrievers tried to take UAlbany out of its element by making the Danes work more methodically on offense. UMBC succeeded, limiting UAlbany to its second-lowest scoring output this season. It should be noted the Danes have the highest scoring offense in the country—they averaged just over 17 goals per game heading into Saturday’s contest. Even with the lack of scoring, UAlbany’s defense and UMBC’s inability to obtain possession doomed the Retrievers.
TD Ierlan, the freshman faceoff specialist from Victor, N.Y., won 16 of 19 face-offs on the afternoon. Before Saturday’s contest, Ierlan had won 71.8 percent of all face-offs, good enough for second in the country. Ierlan was voted US Lacrosse Player of the Week on April 3.
“He’s really good. He’s a very, very competitive young man who prepares himself as well as anyone I’ve ever seen,” head coach Scott Marr said after the game.
The defense played its part on the afternoon, turning in one of its best performances of the season ahead of the matchup with Maryland. Led by veterans Troy Reh, Stone Sims, and AJ Kluck, the UAlbany defense asserted its presence early in the game. The stellar defense, a key component in UAlbany’s nine-game winning streak, consistently helps the offense get possessions and race down the field to score.
“We have a lot of returners back there and JD [Colarusso] is playing great in the pipes,” Fields said. He added, “Going against them in practice is so tough—they definitely make us better.”
The team’s offensive woes could be attributed to the pace that UMBC’s defense set. It could also be a sign that other teams are starting to catch on to the weaknesses in UAlbany’s game. UAlbany turned the ball over 12 times as UMBC constantly threw different looks at the UAlbany offense.
“We were a little sloppy. We turned the ball over too many times on offense,” Marr said. “It’s good to see different defenses and styles of play. It’s a learning experience for us.
The Great Danes don’t have much time to learn from their mistakes with Maryland coming into town on Wednesday afternoon. The No. 6 Terps are the highest ranked team UAlbany has ever welcomed to its campus.
With their one-game-at-a-time mantra, the Great Danes haven’t thought much about their opponent yet. The showdown was originally scheduled for March 11, but UAlbany called it off due to frigid temperatures. The rescheduled game is set for 4:00 on Wednesday and it will be played at Casey Stadium as opposed to John Fallon Field.
The Danes already played a top-five team back on Feb. 18 when they went to the Carrier Dome to take on Syracuse. They held the lead for the majority of the game until a late fourth quarter comeback and buzzer beater by the Orange’s Nick Mariano stole the game from the Danes.
But that’s in the past now, and UAlbany is focused on Wednesday. And after winning nine straight games, as well as 25 straight in the America East (longest conference winning streak in the nation), the Great Danes are confident ahead of the long-awaited matchup.
“If we play our game against Maryland, we should be all right,” Fields said.
With a trip to the Final Four on the radar in 2017, UAlbany fans will find out on Wednesday if the Great Danes have what it takes to make it there.