National title is goal for UAlbany men’s lacrosse in 2018

Great Danes open season in mid-February
TD Ierlan goes through a drill during UAlbany men's lacrosse practice Monday.
TD Ierlan goes through a drill during UAlbany men's lacrosse practice Monday.

ALBANY — The goal is to win a national championship.

For the University at Albany men’s lacrosse team, it’s that simple.

“We know we have the pieces this year,” UAlbany senior Connor Fields said Monday at the team’s first preseason practice.

Off a 2017 season in which the Great Danes won an NCAA tournament game at home before losing in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Maryland, UAlbany received a No. 2 placement in the Inside Lacrosse Preseason Face-Off Yearbook Rankings. Great Danes head coach Scott Marr said he’s not going to spend much energy trying to temper expectations for his veteran-laden squad, which added the country’s top freshman in Tehoka Nanticoke.

“We put that pressure on ourselves more so than anybody on the outside would,” Marr said.

UAlbany — which opens its season Feb. 17 at Syracuse — returns its starting attackmen and defensemen, plus sophomore face-off specialist TD Ierlan and redshirt senior goalie JD Colarusso, from a team that went 15-3 last season.

“We think we have what it takes to be No. 1,” Fields said.

At this point, the lone trouble spot for UAlbany is that senior Troy Reh is battling a foot injury. Marr said that injury — which he declined to get specific about — will likely limit Reh from practicing for much of the season, but he’ll likely be able to play.

Offensively, though, is where UAlbany is expected to dominate in 2018, with Fields and Nanticoke likely to make up the country’s top duo.

“I just don’t see too many defenses out there with the ability to stop one of them individually, but then two of them individually — and then the two of them playing together, doing some ball tricks and stuff like that together,” Marr said.

History in the making

Coming off a junior season in which he led the nation in goals (55), assists (62) and points per game (6.5), Fields has the chance as a senior to accomplish offensive numbers of historic significance.

Last season, his 117 points were the fourth-most ever in the season for a Division I men’s lacrosse player, only trailing seasons from former UAlbany greats Miles Thompson and Lyle Thompson.

Career-wise, Fields enters his senior season at 278 points — putting him within range of Lyle Thompson’s national record of 400 career points.

The addition of Nanticoke is likely only to boost Fields’ scoring totals, providing the senior with a teammate opposing defenses will need to devote ample attention to this season.

“He spreads out defenses,” Fields said.

Gone camping

In advance of starting its preseason, the Great Danes spent the weekend camping together at Dippikill in the Adirondack Mountains.

“It was a nice time,” Nanticoke said of the bonding trip for the team. “No cell service.”

The team spent the weekend together playing card games, broomball and hiking. Nanticoke said the weekend of bonding was invaluable for the team’s players and coaches.

“Coaches had their own cabin, though,” Nanticoke said.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Michael Kelly at [email protected] or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.

Categories: College Sports, Sports

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