ALBANY — Both senior Connor Fields and sophomore TD Ierlan are officially Tewaaraton Award nominees.
The pair of University at Albany men’s lacrosse stars were included Thursday in the Tewaaraton Foundation’s top-25 list for this year’s award. Fields is a nominee for the third consecutive year, while Ierlan is a nominee for the first time.
From the 25 nominees, five finalists will be selected May 10, and this year’s winner of the award will be announced May 31.
Fields, Ierlan and freshman Tehoka Nanticoke were on this year’s watch list for the award from UAlbany. A year ago, Fields was a finalist for the award.
This season, Fields ranks fourth in the country in points per game at 6.0. Fields has had much of the second half of his season hampered by a sprained right MCL, which has robbed him of two entire games and large chunks of three other games. Still, Fields leads the Great Danes with 66 points on the season.
Meanwhile, Ierlan is No. 1 in the nation in faceoff winning percentage at 81.6 percent and ground balls per game at 13.5.
UAlbany has had two different players win the Tewaaraton Award. Brothers Lyle Thompson and Miles Thompson shared the award in 2014, while Lyle Thompson won the award solo in 2015.
Back at it
While Ierlan still leads the nation in a pair of categories, the sophomore is coming off his worst game of the season against Yale.
He knows it, too.
“Pretty bad. Pretty awful,” Ierlan said right after Sunday’s game, in which he won 8 of 21 faceoffs against Yale senior Conor Mackie. “He was at his best, I was pretty awful. All you can really say.”
Wednesday, with a few days to reflect on Sunday’s outing, Ierlan allowed there were “some things” he did well against Mackie. Ierlan’s post-game film session, he said, didn’t take much longer than usual.
“I was doing the same thing wrong pretty much on every faceoff,” Ierlan said.
In Saturday’s game at Hartford, Ierlan faces another tough challenge. Hartford senior Dylan Protesto, an All-American in 2016, has won 65.1 percent of his faceoffs this season. A year ago, when UAlbany played Hartford, Protesto missed the game with an injury — and Ierlan won 22 of 24 faceoffs.
Both players are healthy for this year’s matchup, and UAlbany head coach Scott Marr expects his faceoff specialist to be ready after his subpar performance at Yale.
“He bounces back pretty good,” Marr said.
Goals in reach
While Sunday’s loss represented a low point this season for the Great Danes, they still head into this weekend with a chance to secure home-field advantage for next week’s America East tournament.
“That’s our No. 1 goal right now,” UAlbany senior Kyle McClancy said.
With a win against Hartford (0-5, 3-9), UAlbany (4-1, 11-2) guarantees next week’s tournament will be played at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium. If UAlbany loses Saturday, there are tiebreaker scenarios that could still land the tournament in Albany — but the Great Danes don’t want to rely on them.
“We control our own destiny,” Marr said.
UAlbany is ranked fifth in the country, but will likely play Saturday without Fields. The senior has been listed as “doubtful” to play against Hartford.