ALBANY — On a day when the UAlbany men’s lacrosse team needed players to step it up, Chris Ryan did so in the simplest way: by stepping into his shot.
The senior midfielder from San Ramon, California, rifled the ball past UMass goalie Matt Knote with 1:59 left for just his third career goal, and the No. 19-ranked Great Danes fought off the No. 13 Minutemen 13-12 at Fallon Field on Tuesday afternoon.
It was a fight of a different sort that left UAlbany without leading scorer Tehoka Nanticoke, defenseman Elijah Gash and midfielder Steve Ramirez, who were suspended for one game each by the America East on Monday for a scuffle with Binghamton in the fourth quarter of the Great Danes’ 19-7 victory on Saturday.
UAlbany (4-1) made some adjustments in the short preparation time for UMass (2-1) and got strong performances from a variety of players, including goalie Liam Donnelly, who made 10 saves in the third quarter alone.
“When you have three great players like Elijah, Tehoka and Steve down, it’s next man up,” said Jakob Patterson, who had three goals and five assists. “We took it upon ourselves, and the coaches did a great job with offensive formations and defensive formations.”
“It was a huge team win for us,” head coach Scott Marr said. “We had a little adversity over the weekend, and I thought we handled it very well. Our team pulled together and played as one. Proud of my team for how they responded to the adversity, and we’ll move on to Saturday.”
“It’s over,” he said, when asked about the fight at Binghamton. “We’re done with it. We’re moving on to tomorrow. What does it matter now? If I say something … it doesn’t matter. We won today, we’re moving on and we’re going to win on Saturday.”
Ryan was an unlikely source of offense with the game on the line, based on his career stats.
Marr urged him at halftime to exercise more authority when he shoots, and Ryan made no mistake on the game-winner, firing a bouncer past Knote from the left side.
“I told him at halftime, ‘Chris, you’re going to bury one, so have confidence in yourself that you can score. Next time you get a chance to shoot it, shoot it like you mean it,'” Marr said. “And he did. Next time he got that opportunity, he stepped into that thing and put it away.
“Chris is unheralded and nobody talks about him too much, but the kid hustles every day in practice, and I was really happy to see him get the game-winner.”
“We’re all happy for him,” Patterson said. “He’s been busting his butt in practice. We know that when we put somebody in, they’re going to perform. I couldn’t be more excited for him to have a big goal like this and have confidence going into the next one.”
After Ryan gave UAlbany the 13-12 lead, Regan Endres won the ensuing faceoff for the Great Danes.
But UAlbany turned it over with 56 seconds left.
UMass never got a shot at the tying goal, as the Great Danes’ 10-man ride prevented the Minutemen from clearing, leading to a ground ball picked up by Jake Piseno.
The Great Danes were able to run out the clock from there.
“I thought our ride all day was excellent,” Marr said. “They failed to clear. That was a good bonus for us, not only winning faceoffs, but getting them to turn the ball over five times, that gives us five extra possessions. Our attack rode really well, and then our guys coming in from the box, so at the end of the game, there’s a lot going on, it was a little chaotic and we kept it chaotic in that situation and we were fortunate Jake came up with the ground ball.”
Ryan’s shot won the game, but Camden Hay scored the goal of the game, for aesthetic purposes, when he flipped one over his shoulder to the far top right corner while being shoved away from the crease.
That gave UAlbany an 11-9 lead with 10:16 left.
UMass tied it at 12-12 with 3:21 left, then won the faceoff, but Gabriel Procyk’s low shot bounced off the pipe, and the Great Danes got the rebound with 2:48 left, which set up Ryan’s scoring chance.
“The whole game was up and down,” Donnelly said. “I think there was six or seven minutes there where they carried the momentum. We run those situations in practice every week. We’ll run scrimmages where we’re down one, down two, chasing the lead or holding the lead. I got bailed out by the pipe, bailed out by my defense, and this is great experience for us moving forward, and I think we handled that situation really well.”
“I don’t know if you can put a value on it [the victory],” Marr said. “We’ve been telling the team the whole year about practicing like you’re going to be a starter. Because you just don’t know who’s going to be down, who’s going to be out, injuries, the COVID situation. I think the young kids have embraced that, and some of the older kids who haven’t played a lot their first couple years. They’re ready to play. Honestly, it was like we didn’t skip a beat, even without two of our best players.”
UMass 4 0 3 5 — 12
UAlbany 4 2 3 4 — 13
UMass scoring: Procyk 4-0, Arrant 3-0, Philpott 2-0, M. Tobin 1-0, K. Tobin 1-1, Trainor 1-1, Spencer 0-4, Hochman 0-1, Cutinella 0-1. UAlbany scoring: Patterson 3-5, Hogg 3-0, Casey 2-2, Salit 1-0, C. Hay 1-1, Burgmaster 1-0, Ryan 1-0, John 1-0, Endres 0-1, Piseno 0-1.
Goalies: UMass, Knote, 10 saves. UAlbany, Donnelly, 16 saves.