UAlbany men’s lacrosse faces tough assignment against Vermont

ERICA MILLER/THE DAILY GAZETTE UAlbany's Graydon Hogg, left, handles the ball against Peter Schwab during practice on March 3, 2021.
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ERICA MILLER/THE DAILY GAZETTE
UAlbany's Graydon Hogg, left, handles the ball against Peter Schwab during practice on March 3, 2021.

ALBANY — No time like the present for the UAlbany men’s lacrosse offense to kick into gear.

The Great Danes (2-0) scored 16 in a convincing victory at Hartford last week, but started slow, and face an opponent this week, 1-2 Vermont, that may not be as forgiving as Hartford was.

The Catamounts played catchup last week against Syracuse, but stayed with the No. 7-ranked Orange for the duration of a 17-13 loss, and will throw a big, physical defense at the Great Danes when they square off at 3 p.m. on Saturday at John Fallon Field.

So Vermont doesn’t appear to have dropped off from the 2019 season, when it beat UAlbany twice; the teams did not play during the shortened 2020 season.

“They definitely remember it,” head coach Scott Marr said. “In 2019, we really struggled that year, and we made the [America East] playoffs, but we lost in the semis to Vermont. Conference games are just so different. They don’t forget losing.

“Last time we played them was 2019, they beat us both times, I thought we gave the game away up there, and then they just kind of beat us in the playoffs. So the last taste in our mouth was two losses to them, so we’re certainly excited to play this weekend against them.”

“We just have to come out and be better [than last week’s start],” Tehoka Nanticoke said. “We all know we came out slow, and, personally, I know I didn’t play great the first quarter there. For me, it comes down to being overwhelmed by how much I love this game.

“I didn’t play in 364 days, I think it was, and it brings a lot of emotion. The bus ride there, there was a lot going through my head. I was just excited to get back there. It took me a minute to get going, but that’s all gone now, and on to the next one and get better every day.”

Vermont’s top goal scorers are Thomas McConvey and Michael McCormack, each with 10 goals in three games, and they get scoring support from JJ Levandowski, who spent one fall semester at Syracuse before transferring to Vermont.

Faceoff specialist Tommy Burke has also caught Marr’s attention.

He won 24 of 34 against Syracuse last week and is 51-for-77 (.662) on the season, so the Great Danes

“The faceoff kid’s really good,” Marr said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us getting the ball at the X. We’ve got a couple things we’re going to do differently than we’ve done in the last couple weeks, to try to get the ball a little more.

“We’re going to throw a couple different faceoff guys at them, we’re going to put poles up on the wings. Just try to muck it up a little bit, get the ball on the ground and try to come up with the ground ball. Their faceoff kid is a freshman, but he’s very athletic and seems to have a really quick twitch on the whistle. So we definitely have our work cut out on the X. If not, we’ve got to turn the ball over, we’ve got to get him to fail to clear and all that kind of stuff.”

“They hung with Syracuse for awhile there, so they have a couple big players on offense, they move it well and they definitely like to use their size and strength to their advantage,” UAlbany goalie Liam Donnelly said.

“I watched a little bit of the Syracuse game, and on offense, they’re something serious, so I’m excited for this challenge,” defenseman Elijah Gash said.

SIENA FACES TOUGH ‘D’

The Siena men will play host to Monmouth at 1 p.m. Saturday, and a Saints offense that was out of sync for stretches, especially at the end, in an 8-7 loss to Canisius last week is going to need to find its game this week.

The Hawks’ identity under coach Brian Fisher is strong defense and just enough offense, as they showed in an 8-5 win over Manhattan in their opener last week.

Siena had several opportunities to tie it last week, including a 2-on-1 break, but came up empty.

“They’ve definitely been known as one of the stronger defensive teams in the league for some years now,” Siena head coach Liam Gleason said. “They have some good pieces, but also some real athletic middies who play defense, too.

“When you walked out of last week’s game, you felt better about the defense than the offense. This week we challenged the offense to gain the confidence. I really feel, talent-wise, I think we’ve got all the pieces. These guys have been part of offenses that put up double-digit goals for awhile, and to be held to seven was very disappointing for a lot of the guys on that side of the ball.”

His offense will have to contend with midfielders Rudy Beck and Garrett Klurman, who bring a solid defensive presence.

Gleason said he’ll stick with starting goalie Chris Yanchoris.

“Offensively, they’re very deliberate,” Gleason said. “That’s why you don’t see them putting up lots of points, either. They run their offense, and if they get a couple, they’re going to count on their defense to hold you to less.

“They don’t mix it up too much. They dodge short sticks, and they don’t dodge poles, really. So it’s two people initiating most of the time, and they go down there and run their offense. You just have to stop them and put a couple on their tough defense, and you’re in the game.”

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