ALBANY — After taking a cautious approach throughout the preseason, senior attackman Jakob Patterson is on track to be in the starting lineup Saturday as the UAlbany men’s lacrosse team opens its 2020 season at home against Cornell.
“Jakob’s good,” UAlbany coach Scott Marr said following practice Wednesday at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium. “He’ll be playing.”
Patterson, the 2019 America East Offensive Player of the Year after putting up 25 goals and 32 assists during the Great Danes’ 5-9 season, suffered a meniscus injury to his left knee during UAlbany’s fall-ball season, which required a procedure to fix.
The senior from Chandler, Arizona, was held out of UAlbany’s scrimmages against Siena and St. John’s in late January
Patterson was being attended to on the sideline during the late stages of Wednesday’s practice and was not made available for comment following practice.
“He just had to go in today and get some ice and stuff like that, but he’s fine,” Marr said.
Patterson’s return should bolster a UAlbany attack that lit up the scoreboard in its two scrimmages.
After the doldrums of 2019, the Great Danes are ready to get back to the high-scoring, high-energy brand of lacrosse that defined the team’s rise over the prior decade.
“[We learned] that we can score the ball really good,” junior attackman Tehoka Nanticoke said. “It just goes back to having fun with the game. Going out against Siena and St. John’s, it shows a lot of what we’ve been preparing for.”
A fully-functional pairing of Patterson and Nanticoke — with freshman Graydon Hogg slotting in as the third starter at attack — could be one of the nation’s most potent duos.
The left-handed Patterson was picked as the preseason America East Player of the Year, while the righty Nanticoke is coming off a tumultuous 2019 season but remains one of the most unique talents in the nation — evidenced by his 50-goal, 32-assist freshman season in 2018.
“I’m looking for Tehoka and Jakob to play with each other and complement each other very well,” Marr said. “Righty-lefty, both strong dodgers, both strong finishers. We’re hoping that we create some matchup nightmares for Cornell and everybody down the road, that they have to have two guys who can cover to stop the both of them.”
READY TO ROLL
Sixty of the 75 NCAA Division I lacrosse teams have already played at least one game. UAlbany and Saturday’s opponent, Cornell, are two of the teams yet to get started.
For Nanticoke, the wait’s been long enough.
“I’ve been ready for our season to start since we stepped back on campus,” he said. “I’ve been ready to go since our last game last year. … Being back in Albany, since the first day back on campus, I’ve been prepared to play a game.”
This year’s opener is a bit of a change for UAlbany. Each of the last four seasons — and seven of the last eight — have started for the Great Danes with a trip to the Carrier Dome to face Syracuse. This year, the Orange will be making their first-ever trip to Albany on April 3.
UAlbany hasn’t played its season-opener at home since hosting Denver to start the 2009 season.
“It’s a little different, not going on the road and not opening up with [Syracuse],” Marr said. “Certainly, Cornell is just as worthy of an opponent and certainly grabs our attention from the fall, knowing that’s our first game.”
Reach Adam Shinder at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Shinder.