Albany

UAlbany men’s lacrosse reaches No. 1 in nation

Great Danes sit atop national rankings
UAlbany men's lacrosse is No. 1 in the national poll.
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UAlbany men's lacrosse is No. 1 in the national poll.

ALBANY — Five seconds.

That’s how long University at Albany men’s lacrosse head coach Scott Marr gave his players to celebrate at the start of Monday’s film session.

“And they barely cheered,” Marr said, “which was funny.”

“Very true. That was it,” UAlbany senior Stone Sims said. “Everyone cheered and then we were moving onto next weekend’s game.”

As the No. 1 team in the nation.

For the first time in program history, UAlbany ascended Monday to the top spot in the national rankings. The Great Danes garnered 24 of 32 first-place votes in the media poll and 15 of 23 in the coaches poll, as UAlbany moved up from No. 2 after then-No. 1 Duke’s 10-9 loss Saturday against Penn in both polls.

That day, UAlbany rocked Drexel 18-5 to improve to 2-0 on the season. The Great Danes, who have been ranked in the top four for the entirety of the young season’s duration, debut as a No. 1 team this Saturday at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium against Cornell.

That game was the team’s top focus at Monday’s practice. Senior Troy Reh said making that the case didn’t require any discussion amongst the forward-looking Great Danes.

“At the end of the day, [the ranking] is just a number,” Reh said. “We got Cornell this weekend.”

“We know that we can’t let that [ranking] get to our heads,” UAlbany senior Connor Fields.

But the achievement and its historic nature wasn’t lost on the Great Danes, who became the first Division I program affiliated with the State of New York (SUNY) system to achieve a No. 1 mark. (Coincidentally, Stony Brook women’s lacrosse also became a No. 1 team Monday, a couple hours after UAlbany.)

“It just shows how much we’ve grown as a program,” Fields said.

“And it’s cool, but it’s more important to our families and our friends,” UAlbany senior Kyle McClancy said. “We try not to concern ourselves too much with the outside noise. We want to be ranked No. 1 at the end of the season, so we’re just going to keep working hard.”

UAlbany started playing Division I lacrosse in 2000 under the direction of Mark Wimmer, the lone season the Great Danes played at that level without Marr as their head coach. Now in his 18th season leading the Great Danes, Marr’s teams have won eight America East championships.

Marr and his coaching style were the top reasons freshman Tehoka Nanticoke — the No. 1 recruit in the country — came to UAlbany. The freshman with eight goals and two assists through two games said he wasn’t surprised to see the Great Danes reach No. 1 so quickly this season.

“No, this team is amazing from coaching staff to equipment guy — this entire team, this entire program,” Nanticoke said. “The sky’s the limit for this program.”

This season, the goal is to make UAlbany’s first-ever trip to the sport’s championship weekend in late May. That’s where the Great Danes can join fellow Capital Region Division I programs, such as Union and RPI in men’s hockey, as a true best-in-the-country team with a national championship victory.

That’s why Monday’s celebration for the Great Danes, Marr said, was short-lived and subdued.

“Nobody’s handing us a trophy yet on February 26,” Marr said.

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

Categories: College Sports, Sports

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