Marr embracing trip back to Maryland with No. 1 UAlbany

News, notes on the No. 1 Great Danes
UAlbany men's lacrosse plays Maryland Saturday.
UAlbany men's lacrosse plays Maryland Saturday.

ALBANY — Back in 2016, Scott Marr’s first trip to Maryland as University at Albany men’s lacrosse head coach was an emotional one.

That was no surprise. Marr, whose top-ranked team plays noon Saturday at No. 2 Maryland, isn’t one to hide his emotions. So that trip to College Park, where Marr served as an assistant coach from 1995 to 2000, was bound to be a tough one for him to get through.

This time around? Marr said he expects this trip to be an easier one on him. Being back at Maryland, Marr said Friday, will be different a year after the program ended last May its decades-long drought between winning national championships.

“With Maryland winning the national championship last year, it actually took a lot off of us — of the people who had been a part of the 0-9,” said Marr, referencing Maryland’s nine runner-up finishes between its 1975 and 2017 championships.

Marr coached — and lost — in three of those championship appearances for the Terrapins. While it hurt when Maryland eliminated UAlbany in last year’s NCAA quarterfinals, Marr said a championship win for the Terrapins served as some relief for each person who had been a part of that program since 1975.

“It took that pressure off of everybody,” Marr said.

While the emotional part of this year’s game at Maryland will be easier for Marr to handle, he expects his Great Danes to face their toughest challenge of the regular season. Largely, Marr said, that’s because of the job Maryland head coach John Tillman and his staff do leading the Terrapins.

“I don’t know that there’s a team out there, honestly, that’s better coached than these guys,” Marr said.

From the start

For his part, Tillman is in awe of the collection of offensive talent Marr has brought together at UAlbany.

He’s more in awe, though, of what sophomore TD Ierlan is doing for the Great Danes’ as their faceoff specialist.

“I don’t think I’ve ever gone into a game where you look at the stats and a team is almost 91 percent, I think, at the faceoff X,” Tillman said. “That, after three games, I just haven’t seen that before.”

Tillman said that earlier this week, back when Ierlan was right at 91.0 percent before his — ahem — season-worst game Tuesday in which he went 17 of 23 on faceoffs. That performance dropped Ierlan’s nation-leading faceoff winning percentage to 86.7 percent.

Last year, Ierlan produced mixed results in UAlbany’s two losses against Maryland. In the first, Ierlan was 16 of 27; then, he went 14 of 30.

“I’ve got to be ready,” Ierlan said of this weekend’s matchup. “I’ve got to be on my game.”

Fields passes idol

This season’s bound to include several memorable moments for UAlbany senior Connor Fields and one of the more memorable ones came in Tuesday’s 19-8 win against UMass.

That day, Fields scored a career-high 12 points and moved to No. 8 all-time on the NCAA career scoring list with 308 points. Amongst the players Fields passed that day was Michael Powell, who played at Syracuse from 2001 to 2004.

“He was definitely one of my idols growing up,” Fields said of Powell, whose career included 307 points.

Through his first four games this season, Fields leads the nation in points per game at 7.5 and is 92 away from matching UAlbany legend Lyle Thompson atop the all-time NCAA scoring list.

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

Categories: College Sports, Sports

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