If you didn’t catch Saturday’s UAlbany-UNC matchup at Casey Stadium, you missed one of the best sporting events the Capital Region has seen in years.
In my years of watching lacrosse as both a player and fan, I can tell you that it doesn’t get much better than last Saturday. It was cold and wet If you have ever played lacrosse, you know what happens to a stick in wet weather. Yikes. That didn’t stop the Danes. The student section was surreal too, 6,000+ total fans.
The Great Danes will take on the national runner up, who UNC defeated last year at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. This is the second time the Danes will face Maryland this year. The last time the team saw the Terps was on April 12th, Albany took an “L” by a margin of one-point.
Connor Fields, a Tewarraton finalist, will need to control the offense a little more than he did on Saturday in order to beat this Maryland team. The Terps have potentially the most physical offense in the country, and a few bucking broncos on the “D” too.
Expect Maryland to double-up or put their best guy on Fields, a guy who is arguably playing as good as Lyle Thompson did last year.
Albany will look to lock off Matt Rambo (#1) and Colin Heacock (#2) of the Terps. Rambo is a huskier attackman that will barrel through a defense if necessary. He’s quick and agile. Heacock is 6’3″ and appears out of the middle of nowhere at times.
The two compliment each other in their gameplay. The duo will prove to be the biggest threat against the Danes moving on to championship weekend in Foxboro.
TD Ierlan is second in the country in face-off percentage for the Danes and was instrumental in beating UNC. The sheer amount of times that Albany possessed the ball gave the Tar Heels a run for their money. The freshman posts a .725 face-off win percentage against opponents. He struggled against Maryland when the two teams met in the regular season so you can expect him to come out with fury at the face-off “X” on Sunday.
In today’s college lacrosse game, having a solid face-off guy is vital to winning a game, let alone a national championship. Can’t win the game without possessing the ball, right?
In order to beat Maryland, Albany will have to have a lot more off ball movement than they did in their first time facing Maryland. Kids, there’s nothing more that gets your coach more upset than not moving on the field. I learned that the hard way. But I learned!
There’s no doubt in my mind that there’s a good chance to see purple and gold at Gillette Stadium after next weekend. There isn’t much room for mistake against Maryland though. The Terps have quite the resume and are a seasoned championship weekend team. They lost the past two national championships. Last year was even more bitter than the year before. They were defeated in OT against UNC, who was unseeded in the tournament.
They smell blood this year.
Albany head coach Scott Marr is putting together quite the name himself and UAlbany. He’s developing Albany lacrosse into a brand. Young lacrosse players across the country are beginning to have their eyes set on playing for Marr and the Danes. The question should be not whether the Danes can handle top notch lacrosse teams, because evidently they can.
The questions is whether or not we are ready to see more big shot teams in the Capital Region. Don’t forget folks, school officials take into account whether or not 6,000+ fans will show up to every game. If we want to see teams in the ACC or Big Ten at Casey again, we will have to come and support the team like we did on Saturday.
Prediction: Maybe I’m a little biased on this one being an Albany student, but I’m going with Albany on this one. I just think that face-off man TD Ierlan has too much momentum coming out of the win against North Carolina. As long as turnovers don’t plague Albany, the Danes should be able to possess the ball for some time.
Although Fields didn’t put up his usual numbers against the Heels, he still did a great job at facilitating the offense. The offensive depth that the Danes have is remarkable and full of energy, something that will help them moving on. There’s one thing for sure. This side of the bracket is much tougher than the other side.
If the Danes pull this one off against Maryland, there is no doubt that the University at Albany have to get a parade route set for early June.
FINAL SCORE: Albany wins, 16-15.
Be sure to tune in:
No. 8 Albany Great Danes vs. No. 1 Maryland Terrapins
Delaware Stadium (Newark, Delaware)
Watch the game on ESPN 2 or Online
Here’s the bracket:
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