Frantic finish sends No. 1 UAlbany men’s lacrosse past No. 2 Maryland

UAlbany outscores Maryland 5-0 in final period of 11-10 win
University at Albany players celebrate their 11-10 comeback win Saturday over Maryland at Maryland Stadium in College Park.
University at Albany players celebrate their 11-10 comeback win Saturday over Maryland at Maryland Stadium in College Park.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — No. 1 vs. No. 2 didn’t disappoint.

“That was awesome,” University at Albany men’s lacrosse head coach Scott Marr said once he’d caught his breath. “That was everything we expected it to be. The crowd, the atmosphere — and how good Maryland was.”

But UAlbany was better.

And proved it with a remarkable finish.

Down four goals to start the fourth quarter on No. 2 Maryland’s home turf, No. 1 UAlbany figured out a way — somehow — to leave the defending national champion’s Maryland Stadium with an 11-10 win.

“They were down,” Maryland head coach John Tillman said, “but they just kept battling.”

“We knew if we kept pushing along,” UAlbany senior Connor Fields said, “we could come out on top in this one.”

For nearly all of the opening three quarters, though, Saturday’s game bordered on becoming a repeat performance of last May’s nightmare for the Great Danes, back when UAlbany saw its 2017 season end with an 18-9 loss to Maryland in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals. Maryland led Saturday by as many as five goals — at 8-3 — and controlled play for the first 45 minutes.

Then — less than a week after last Sunday’s scintillating comeback against Cornell, in which UAlbany scored the final four goals in an 11-9 win — the Great Danes got rolling when they needed against a program they had never previously beaten in three tries.

“You’ve got to come at them,” Marr said of how to take down the Terrapins, who he helped coached for six seasons before heading to UAlbany, “and you’ve got to beat them.”

UAlbany’s game-ending 5-0 run started with an innocent score from Fields just more than a minute into the final period. After several scoreless minutes, senior Kyle McClancy scored with 6:14 to go to bring UAlbany within 10-8 — and the mood in Maryland Stadium started to change as “Albany” chants rang out loudest from the crowd of 7,475.

On the UAlbany sideline, the team’s players and coaches kept going back to Marr’s halftime message when the Great Danes were down 6-3 after a poor opening 30 minutes.

“We’re never out of it,” Marr told them. “We’re not out of it.”

Sophomore Jakob Patterson scored next for UAlbany with 5:05 to go, and he added the game-tying goal less than a minute later off a feed from Fields.

Which meant the stage was all but set for Fields — a Tewaaraton Award finalist a year ago — to finish off another epic comeback win for the Great Danes.

“Connor’s as good as it gets, to be honest,” Marr said of his senior star, who finished with a game-high six points via four goals and two assists, a game after he scored a career-high 12 points in a win against UMass.

First, the UAlbany defense needed to make one of the few stops it was called upon to make in the fourth quarter. After redshirt senior JD Colarusso’s save, UAlbany called for a timeout with 2:10 to go to set up a play.

The play: Get the ball to Fields.

After the Great Danes whipped the ball around their offensive end, the ball landed in their top star’s stick so he could go 1-on-1 with Maryland senior Bryce Young for as long as needed. Fields wrapped around the goal, stumbled, got back up, and kept rolling to his left until he lined up a game-winning bouncer under the stick of Maryland senior goalie Dan Morris with 1:16 to go.

“We just started clicking,” Fields said of the Great Danes’ ability to juice up their offense when needed.

After Fields’ goal, UAlbany needed a couple more heroes to finish out the win.

First, sophomore TD Ierlan completed a 6 of 6 fourth quarter on faceoffs to give possession back to the Great Danes. That big finish for the sophomore came after he had started the game 8 of 18 — and after he went 14 of 30 last May against the Terrapins.

After that last faceoff win — which Fields secured with a ground ball leading into a timeout — UAlbany was able to fend off the chasing Terrapins until the final 10 seconds, when Maryland was able to regain possession and fire a desperation shot at Colarusso to save as time expired to complete another epic comeback win for the Great Danes.

“It’s just another win against a really good team,” Ierlan said. “They’re loaded, top to bottom. Any time you can get a win, especially on the road here, we’ll take it.”

“This is just one win,” Colarusso said.

Marr offered a bit of a sheepish smile at those takes from his players. He admitted his players had been “coached” on how to answers questions about what a win against Maryland would mean to the Great Danes. They had been told all week to say it was just another game.

But was it?

“It’s not,” Marr said.

The coach grew emotional when discussing if a win at Maryland, one of his past coaching stops, carried extra meaning for him.

“Absolutely. Absolutely,” said Marr, who said his players gave him a game ball after the win. “It feels awesome.”

For Maryland (5-1), senior Connor Kelly led with two goals and three assists. Besides Fields’ six-point day for UAlbany (5-0), the nation’s top team received four goals apiece from McClancy and Patterson.

The win came in UAlbany’s first-ever game involving the nation’s two top-ranked teams. On Monday, UAlbany will start its third consecutive week at No. 1 — and will do so off one of its best wins in program history, the kind of win that makes dreams of a national title feel realistic.

“If we can compete and play with them like that,” Marr said, “then I feel like we can play with anybody.”

UAlbany 1 2 3 5 — 11

Maryland 3 3 4 0 — 10

UAlbany scoring: Nanticoke 0-1, Fields 4-2, J. Reh 0-1, Patterson 4-0, McClancy 3-0. Maryland scoring: Bernhardt 2-0, Wisnauskas 2-0, Kelly 2-3, Fairman 2-0, Rotanz 1-1, Shockey 0-1, DeMaio 0-1, DeMillo 1-0.

Goalies: UAlbany, Colarusso, 11 saves.

Attendance: 7,475.

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

Categories: College Sports, Sports

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