ALBANY — UAlbany men’s lacrosse goalie Nate Siekierski knew his job when he trotted back onto the field at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium early in the fourth quarter Saturday against Harvard.
“The mentality was, ‘I better not screw this up,’” Siekierski said.
He did far from it, coming up huge down the stretch as UAlbany claimed a 15-14 win.
After allowing a couple of soft goals in the third quarter, Siekierski was pulled in favor of freshman Tommy Heller with 6:35 left in the third quarter. When Siekierski got to the sideline, UAlbany coach Scott Marr immediately got in his starting goalie’s ear and let him know two things — that he was going back in the game, and that he needed to be more aggressive once he did.
“Everybody needs a good slap in the face at times,” Siekierski said. “I believe I needed that slap in the face, and I think it really got me going.”
Siekierski re-entered the game early in the fourth quarter after Harvard had gotten a pair of goals past Heller to tie the game. Rejuvenated, Siekierski made seven of his eight saves in the fourth quarter — including a pair of stops in the final 30 seconds.
“Give him a lot of credit for staying with it,” Marr said. “When I took him out, I told him he was going back in. He had to be ready to go back in.”
UAlbany (2-1) led by as many as five goals in the first half, only for Harvard to come back and tie the game on three separate occasions in the fourth quarter. But, with the Great Danes nursing a one-goal lead after Tehoka Nanticoke’s fifth goal of the game with 3:02 to play, Siekierski came up big in the clutch.
Siekierski came up with a save on Harvard’s Nick Loring with 26 seconds to play and UAlbany took over possession, but a turnover gave the ball back to Harvard in the waning seconds.
As they had so many times Saturday, the Crimson (1-2) got a look in transition, but Siekierski rose to the occasion and stonewalled Jack Frisoli’s shot, then protected his crease in the ensuing scrum as time expired.
“I just sold out,” Siekierski said. “I didn’t care if I made [the save] with my stick, I didn’t care if I got hurt. I just wanted that win.”
UAlbany’s offense hummed with the combination of Nanticoke (five goals, three assists) and Patterson (three goals, four assists) doing the bulk of the damage.
Against a Harvard defense that held each of its first two opponents to nine goals, UAlbany reached double digits before the midpoint of the second quarter.
“They didn’t mess around,” Marr said. “When they had the opportunity to put the ball in the goal or find the open man, they did the right thing with the ball.”
Kyle Casey, Graydon Hogg and Corey Yunker scored two goals apiece, but in the biggest moments, it was Nanticoke and Patterson making the plays for UAlbany.
After all three times Harvard tied the game in the fourth quarter, Nanticoke played a hand in giving UAlbany the lead again. He assisted on Hogg’s goal that made it 13-12 and converted a feed from Yunker to make it 14-13 before coming up with the winning goal when Patterson found him on the crease and Nanticoke faked out Harvard goalie Kyle Mullin before depositing the ball in the net.
Nanticoke’s five goals and eight points both matched career-highs set on March 6, 2017, at UMass.
“I have the easy job,” Patterson said. “I’ve just got to find him, and then he does the hard part of finishing the goals.”
It was the second straight one-goal win for UAlbany, which will now have a quick turnaround before hitting the road Tuesday to face a UMass team that is coming off a 13-10 upset win Saturday against top-ranked Yale.
“We believe in each other, right from the first guy to the last guy on the bench,” Nanticoke said. “We just go out and play lacrosse, and we know if we do our job, everything’s going to go our way.”
Harvard 1 6 3 3—14
UAlbany 3 7 2 4—15
Harvard scoring: Frisoli 3-0, Madronic 3-0, Graff 2-2, Evans 2-0, Tangredi 1-0, Magno 1-0, Massimillian 1-0, Hamm 1-0, Loring 0-2, Salavatore 0-2, Cuccurullo 0-1. UAlbany scoring: Nanticoke 5-3, Patterson 3-4, Yunker 2-2, Hogg 2-1, Casey 2-0, John 1-1. Goalies: Harvard, Mullin, 9 saves; UAlbany, Siekierski, 8 saves, Heller, 2 saves. Attendance: 1,529.
Reach Adam Shinder at [email protected] or @Adam_Shinder on Twitter.