First-year University at Albany head women’s lacrosse coach John Battaglino has guided the Great Danes to their best start in program history, but he is far from satisfied.
“On a scale of one to 10, I’d say we are at about a three or four right now,” said Battaglino, after his team crushed Niagara, 23-1, Friday afternoon at John Fallon Field. “We are starting to do things better, but we are a far cry from where I want us to be. We are still a work in progress.”
Albany, ranked 19th in the country in both the IWLCA and deBeer/Inside Lacrosse polls, is off to a 5-0 start. The Great Danes dominated the Purple Eagles from start to finish, but Battaglino admitted he has extremely high expectations for this group.
“I am very happy with the way we responded after our last game,” he said, pointing to what he felt was a less than inspired effort in Albany’s 17-8 win over Marist earlier in the week. “The team came to play today.”
Battaglino said despite the blowout victory, the Great Danes were able to accomplish several things that will help them later on in the season.
“We got to play a lot of our younger kids who don’t get to play that often, and we were able to let them play without pressure,” he said. “We were also able to work on some things. It was also just nice to be able to run on the field and be outside in some nice weather for a change. It was a nice situation to put our younger players in. You also have to remember that we have several injuries, and we have limited personnel. A game like this helped the younger players learning new positions.”
Battaglino said being nationally ranked has its up side and down side.
“It’s nice to be ranked, but when you are ranked, you have a target on your back. We will get the other team’s best every day,” he said.
Sophomore midfielder Rachael Burek registered a career-high five goals, while senior attacker Taylor Frink matched her career high with seven points, including three goals.
Freshman midfielder Ariana Parker, who tied a team single-game record with seven goals earlier in the season, tallied four times, while fellow freshman Persy Sample chipped in with three goals.
The game got out of hand so early that Albany pulled starting goalie Anna Berman with eight minutes left in the first half and inserted junior Brett Yenger to play the rest of the way.
Niagara (0-2) didn’t snap the shutout until Rianne Farrugia bounced in a goal with 7:37 left in the game.
UAlbany recorded 50 shots and forced Niagara goalkeeper Jen Zandrio to make a career-high 17 saves.
“We wanted to get our younger players in the game,” said Burek, who was a member of last year’s America East Conference all-rookie team. “We want all of our players to contribute. We take every game seriously, and this helps us get better as a team.”
“We played a full 60 minutes,” added Frink. “I was glad I was able to put my shots away and at the same time find my teammates. It definitely helps to be undefeated and ranked at this point in the season because it gives us confidence. Our goal is to win the America East Conference.”
Niagara 0 1 — 1
Albany 17 6 — 23
Niagara scoring: Rianne Farrugia 1-0. Albany scoring: Rachael Burek 5-0, Ariana Parker 4-0, Taylor Frink 3-4, Persy Sample 3-0, Jodi Battaglia 2-1, Nikki Branchini 2-0, Amanda Pollock 1-1, Meghan Haney 1-0, Jess Antelmi 1-0, Kathleen Lennon 1-0.
Goalkeepers: Albany, Anna Berman, 2 saves; Brett Yenger, 2 saves; Niagara, Jen Zandio, 17 saves.
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