ALBANY — As she prepared to join the UAlbany women’s lacrosse program, freshman Katie Pascale knew the team’s games against Stony Brook meant more than others.
“And, now, being on the team, you just see the fire that the upperclassmen have behind them when we’re playing them,” Pascale said during a Wednesday teleconference.
UAlbany plays against No. 6 Stony Brook this Saturday, as the Great Danes will head to Long Island to try to snap their top rival’s long winning streak against them. Stony Brook (2-0 America East Conference, 5-2 overall) has defeated UAlbany (2-0, 5-2) in 14 consecutive matchups, a span of games that includes seven meetings in the conference championship game.
UAlbany and Stony Brook haven’t played since the 2019 league championship game that the Seawolves won 21-7. The teams didn’t meet during the shortened 2020 season, but will play each other twice during this year’s regular season.
“I do keep forgetting that our sophomore and freshman classes have never seen them, have never played them,” UAlbany graduate student Jordyn Marr said. “So it’s an interesting mix. They know our feelings about the game and how the emotions are heightened to play them, but it does bring a different atmosphere knowing that half of our team hasn’t actually experienced playing them before.”
“But I think we’re in a really, really great place right now,” head coach Katie Rowan Thomson said.
UAlbany has won three consecutive games, a stretch that includes a blowout win against a ranked-at-the-time Hofstra squad. While the Great Danes have a variety of veteran stars on their roster, less-experienced players such as Pascale, a freshman from Baldwinsville, have given UAlbany an extra lift.
Pascale, the America East Rookie of the Week in two of the last three weeks, is coming off a four-goal game in UAlbany’s win against Binghamton. On the season, Pascale is second on UAlbany in goals with 15 and third in assists with eight.
“Not what I expected,” Pascale said of her immediate high-level production for the Great Danes.
Pascale said she knew she was heading to play at a “whole different level,” and expected the move to Division I athletics to be extra difficult since her senior season of high school lacrosse was canceled because of concerns related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“I didn’t even have one game last season, my senior year, so I knew I’d have to work hard over the summer and this fall to play my best,” Pascale said.
As she waited to join UAlbany, though, Pascale said she looked forward to the games against Stony Brook. While she is a newcomer to the rivalry between the America East schools, Pascale said the younger Great Danes have seen how the level of focus and intensity charged up a level ahead of this weekend’s game.
“Everyone’s really fired up and excited, and it’s infectious to us,” Pascale said. “We realize how big of a game it is, and it’s exciting that we finally get the chance to [play] them.”