ALBANY — Had to watch. Couldn’t miss it.
So with his own National League Lacrosse game just several hours from starting, Lyle Thompson switched up his pre-game routine to catch the University at Albany men’s lacrosse team’s season-opening blowout win Saturday afternoon at Syracuse.
“Typically, that’s my nap time,” Thompson said. “But we put the game on the computer. Me and [my brother] Miles watched it together.”
And not long after UAlbany finished off an eye-popping 15-3 win in which senior Connor Fields collected four points and freshman Tehoka Nanticoke debuted with five goals, Thompson took to Twitter to offer a prediction.
Prediction. Fieldsy aka skinny breaks the NCAA career point record this year.. Then Tehoka breaks it.
— lyle thompson (@lyle4thompson) February 17, 2018
Fields, Thompson wrote, will break his NCAA career scoring record this year.
Then, Thompson finished, Nanticoke will take that mark down before his college career is through.
Monday, he doubled down on that prediction.
“They both can do it. They’re both capable of it. I know that from experience playing within our system at Albany,” Thompson said of head coach Scott Marr’s program. “It’s meant to score a lot of goals, to have fun and to push it.”
Thompson scored a record 400 points during his 2012-2015 career at UAlbany, during which he shared the 2014 Tewaaraton Award with his brother Miles and won the 2015 Tewaaraton Award solo.
During his senior season, Thompson played with a freshman Fields. Thompson broke Cornell’s Rob Pannell’s career scoring record that year with an assist on a Fields goal.
Fields entered his senior season needing 122 points to tie Thompson’s career mark after scoring 117 last season. Thompson — who now lives in Six Nations, where Nanticoke grew up — said he thinks Fields has the ability to outdo what he produced last season, especially given the opportunity to play with Nanticoke, the nation’s consensus top freshman who started his career by winning America East Offensive Player of the Week and America East Rookie of the Week awards.
“Just looking at Fieldsy, he’s just evolved into his role as a feeder and ball carrier,” said Thompson, who is currently playing for the Georgia Swarm. “What he’s turned into is that he’s an elite feeder now — and that’s what I like most. That’s the type of player I am.”
Nanticoke, Thompson said, will help Fields go after the career scoring record with his ability to finish.
“Tehoka, he’s just a natural goal scorer. He’s able to put defenses in situations where they have to slide, and when they do . . . he’s capable of escaping doubles and either making a feed or putting the defense in a situation where they have to move,” Thompson said. “Tehoka’s stick skills let him be a threat anywhere on the field.”
Tehoka Nanticoke starts off his #NCAALAX career winning the @AmericaEast Offensive Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week awards.@UAlbanyMLax teammate JD Colarusso earns the conference’s Defensive Player of the Week award.
— Michael Kelly (@ByMichaelKelly) February 19, 2018
One area where Thompson sees Nanticoke eventually having a career scoring advantage over Fields is that the freshman projects to play three seasons with sophomore TD Ierlan, while Fields will only play two.
Ierlan — UAlbany’s super-successful faceoff specialist — could be the X-factor when it comes down to a career scoring race between Fields and Nanticoke, Thompson said, as the sophomore’s ability to win faceoffs so consistently will continue to help charge up UAlbany’s scoring opportunities. Ierlan, who finished second in the nation last year in faceoff winning percentage, won 16 of 21 faceoffs against Syracuse.
“That allows for so much more freedom,” Thompson said of the possessions Ierlan secures.
Thompson said he wants each of Fields and Nanticoke to surpass his record. The two-time Tewaaraton Award winner has a personal connection with each player, and Fields is playing the mentor role to Nanticoke this year that Thompson played to Fields three years ago.
That last part brings us to the fun part of Thompson’s tweet from the other day: How did “Skinny” get started as a nickname for Fields?
“That’s what we called him when he was a freshman because he was such a little guy and he’d be on the ground after every shot,” Thompson said with a laugh. “He was always falling.”