Balance from top to bottom and on both sides of the field helps this season’s University at Albany men’s lacrosse team win in many different ways.
Scoring aces Connor Fields and Seth Oakes combined for seven goals, six others joined them in the scoring column, and senior goalie Blaze Riorden was nearly invincible for the first three periods, as the Great Danes ripped Vermont 13-7 in an America East Conference matchup Saturday afternoon at John Fallon Field.
The game was even more one-sided than the final score, as the Great Danes used an 8-0 second-quarter burst to grab a 12-2 lead headed into the final period.
UAlbany, ranked sixth in the USILA Coaches Poll and seventh the Inside Lacrosse Media Poll, improved to 4-0 in the conference and 8-2 overall. The Great Danes have won 20 consecutive conference games.
Although Fields, Oakes and Riorden — all Tewaaraton Watch List performers — played large roles in the victory, the Great Danes also got superb efforts from numerous others. Faceoff specialist Zach Ornstein won 15 of 24 draws, defenseman James Burdett helped hold Vermont’s leading scorer Ian McKay to only two points, defenseman Stone Sims collected his first collegiate goal, and Justin Reh added a goal and four assists.
“Our defense played great today,” said Burdett, a 6-foot-6, 225-pound junior. “It helped that we didn’t have any midweek game this week, so we had plenty of time to focus on what Vermont’s offense does best. They do a lot of screens and picks, but we did a good job against their offense today.”
Fields, who now has a team-high 28 goals and 15 assists for 43 points, tallied twice in the Great Danes’ 8-0 second-quarter run.
“This was a great win for us, because everybody is getting involved,” Fields said. “Everybody is dodging, feeding and scoring. Nobody is scared to let it go on this team. Last year, everybody was focused on Lyle [Thompson], and that’s understandable, because he was our go-to guy, but this year, you can’t cover just one guy. If you focus on one or two of us, the others are free to score.”
UAlbany dominated play after a relatively lackluster 1-1 tie in the first period. “We started out slow, and we were a little flat. We weren’t moving our feet, but once we began cutting, we got our offense going,” Fields said.
Riorden kept the Catamounts (1-2, 5-7) frustrated for three periods, especially McKay, who entered the game with 29 goals but only managed a pair of assists. Riorden, who is third in the nation in saves (13.3 per game), finished with 14.
“We worked hard to keep Vermont off the board,” Riorden said. “When we are clicking on all cylinders, we are hard to beat.”
Marr agreed that the victory was one of the team’s best all-around efforts of the season.
“Defensively, we really played well,” he said. “We really held them down. We executed our defensive game plan extremely well, and when somebody did get through, the big guy was there to make the big save for us.
“I think we did a good job, overall, of riding on offense,” Marr added. “Seth and Connor are our constants, but we’re also getting plenty of offense from the other guys. Nine of our 13 goals were assisted today, and everybody is getting involved.”
Vermont 1 0 1 5 — 7
UAlbany 1 8 3 1 — 13
Vermont scoring: Cam Milligan 4-1, Cam Stafford 2-1, Matt Gudas 1-0, Ian Mackay 0-2, Charlie Cobb 0-1, Dawes Milchling 0-1. UAlbany scoring: Connor Fields 4-0, Seth Oakes 3-1, John Maloney 2-1, Justin Reh 1-4, Kevin McNally 1-0, Derrick Eccles 1-0, Stone Sims 1-0, Kyle McClancy 0-2, John Glancy 0-1.
Goalies: Vermont, Jon Kaplan, 16 saves. UAlbany, Blaze Riorden, 14 saves.
Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected] or Bob Weiner58 on Twitter.