ALBANY — The Great Danes aren’t looking past the quarterfinals, but they are spending some time this week focusing on finals.
As the eighth-seeded UAlbany men’s lacrosse team prepares for its NCAA tournament quarterfinal against top-seeded Maryland, the team’s players are in the midst of wrapping up their final projects and taking end-of-semester exams.
Perhaps that’s why some players lingered after Tuesday’s practice at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium.
“Rather be here than studying,” junior attackman Connor Fields quipped.
Nearby, senior midfielder Eli Lasda pretty much had the same mindset. All he had left to do to fulfill his academic requirements at UAlbany was hand in a completed paper for an English course.
Well, an almost-completed paper.
“It might need a little editing still,” Lasda said.
Some players had to leave early from Tuesday’s practice to get ready for exams, which contributed to a somewhat relaxed atmosphere around the Great Danes, who are just days removed from downing reigning national champion North Carolina 15-12 in the first round of the NCAA tournament. While preparations are underway to take on Maryland (13-3) Sunday at Delaware Stadium in Newark, Del., the heavy lifting for UAlbany (15-2) will come later this week.
Already, though, UAlbany has a strong familiarity with the Terrapins. Maryland beat UAlbany 12-11 a month ago in a game played several weeks after the game was originally scheduled, only to be postponed by weather. That means this week is the third this season the Great Danes have spent preparing to face the Terrapins.
“But we’re just excited to have the chance to play them again,” Lasda said. “I’m just thankful every day I’m still here playing lacrosse.”
That goes extra for Great Danes like senior midfielder Adam Osika, who really was in no hurry Tuesday to leave Casey Stadium. His last final exam was behind him, leaving him to stay after practice concluded to work on his shot for a bit before he spent the rest of his day relaxing.
“I’m just chilling,” Osika said.
UAlbany head coach Scott Marr started his coaching career at Delaware, the site of Sunday’s game.
That game? The Great Danes’ opponent is the program Marr coached at next, his final stop before heading to UAlbany.
Everything coming together like that, Marr said, feels like more than coincidence.
“I think about it all the time,” he said, emotion showing on his face. “That’s the way I think.”
Both Delaware and Maryland are special programs for Marr. His role as an assistant with the Terrapins helped him land the Great Danes’ job, while his time at Delaware helped shape him as a coach and person.
During his time at Delaware, Marr met and married his wife Traci. The couple wed in the backyard of veteran Delaware head coach Bob Shillinglaw, the school’s coach since the 1979 season.
Marr thanked Shillinglaw Tuesday for the chance to start his own coaching career right after his playing career ended at Johns Hopkins. Marr will get the chance to thank Shillinglaw in person this weekend, too, as Shillinglaw will be a host for the Great Danes.
“He’ll be with us all weekend,” Marr said.