Albany

No. 1 UAlbany men’s lacrosse’s depth to be tested

Great Danes likely without Fields vs. Stony Brook
Tehoka Nanticoke, UAlbany play Saturday against Stony Brook.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Tehoka Nanticoke, UAlbany play Saturday against Stony Brook.

ALBANY — Officially, University at Albany men’s lacrosse head coach Scott Marr said Friday that senior Connor Fields is “doubtful” for Saturday’s 4 p.m. America East game against Stony Brook.

Unofficially, it seems Fields is even closer to “out” than that.

And, truthfully, No. 1 UAlbany isn’t consumed with anxiety over if that’s the case.

Far from it, really.

“Connor is an unbelievable player, so I don’t want to undersell that,” UAlbany senior Kyle McClancy said, “but we’ve got a lot of talented guys on this team who can get the job done.”

Often, the individual ability of Fields — still dealing with a sprained right MCL — obscures the amount of quality depth these Great Danes have amassed. Fields is the nation’s leader in points per game, but UAlbany isn’t going to lack for high-powered scoring options if the senior misses the first game of his college career.

“When you have him,” Marr said, “you use him because he’s the best — and, when you don’t have him, it doesn’t mean that the other guys aren’t any good.”

Those “other guys” likely get the chance to prove that at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium against Stony Brook (2-0, 3-5), a top rival for UAlbany (2-0, 9-0) within conference play.

“We have a lot of talent that can step in and play any role,” UAlbany freshman Tehoka Nanticoke said.

That might sound overconfident. After all, Fields was on track to set the NCAA career scoring record before problems started with his right knee last weekend — but the Great Danes aren’t No. 1 in the country because of just one player.

Sophomore faceoff specialist TD Ierlan leads the country in faceoff winning percentage (82.0 percent) and ground balls per game (14.4).

Six players average more than a goal per game for the nation’s highest-scoring offense at 15.7 goals per game.

Redshirt senior goalie JD Colarusso leads the nation in save percentage (64.7 percent) and anchors the second-best scoring defense (7.00) in the country.

“We’re staying very focused,” UAlbany senior Stone Sims said. “We’re just going to go out and give it our all.”

“We have plenty of guys that can play,” said Marr, whose team could also be without senior attack Justin Reh, who is dealing with an undisclosed upper-body injury.

That’s true beyond the statistics, too. Sophomore Davis Diamond is likely to start if Fields cannot play, and he has shown off his talent in a limited role this season. The same goes for sophomore Mitch Laffin — Reh’s likely replacement — who scored 11 goals last season, but has struggled to find playing time this season because of UAlbany’s wealth of talent.

Marr said there will be guys on his team who “absolutely” use the chance against Stony Brook to show what they can do without Fields. McClancy said that’s normal.

“Anytime a guy goes down,” McClancy said, “it’s an exciting opportunity for other guys to showcase what they got out there.”

For right now, that’s good enough for the Great Danes. Long-term, they know they need Fields to compete in May’s postseason the way they want — and UAlbany remains confident Fields will be 100 percent for that portion of the season, with Marr saying Friday that Fields’ right knee had improved since he left Wednesday’s win against Harvard early in the third quarter.

“We know Connor’s going to be back and he’s doing whatever it takes to get healthy,” Colarusso said.

Until that’s the case?

“It’s a next-man-up mentality here,” McClancy said.

And?

“We’ve got a lot of guys who can step up,” McClancy said.

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

Categories: College Sports, Sports

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