Tuesday threatened to suck the momentum out of the UAlbany men’s lacrosse team.
The opposite happened, so the Great Danes have a little roll going for them at an important point in the season, a rivalry game at Stony Brook at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
The teams have played each other for 21 seasons, and are both 2-1 in the America East so far and riding back-to-back victories.
UAlbany’s latest win came on Tuesday, when the Great Danes beat UMass 13-12 despite missing three suspended players — Tehoka Nanticoke, Elijah Gash and Steve Ramirez — after a fight in the fourth quarter of last Saturday’s 19-7 win at Binghamton. The conference handed down the penalties, also suspending several Binghamton players.
Facing the No. 13 team in the national poll, UAlbany put together a complete effort and got the game-winner from an unlikely source, senior Chris Ryan, who scored just his third career goal. Now UAlbany gets the three suspended players back in time to face one of the better teams in the conference.
“We’re just building off the energy coming off the big one [Tuesday],” senior midfielder Ron John said on Wednesday.
“Always be ready; you never know when your shot’s going to come,” junior defense Tanner Hay said.
“This year has been different,” head coach Scott Marr said. “You have to be ready to play, with the COVID situation and injuries. It’s just disappointing that they had to sit out for that reason.
“And all three of them were great teammates on the sideline and in huddles and in between stuff, and Tehoka was talking to the offense. So it was positive in that regard, that they didn’t sit back and sulk.”
One player who has been seeing more action because of injury is freshman faceoff specialist Regan Endres.
Senior Anthony Altimari returned to practice on Wednesday after not having played since getting hurt against Hartford on March 6, but Marr said it’ll be a few weeks before he’s ready for game action.
That gives Endres even more opportunity to learn the college game. He won 15 of 28 faceoffs against UMass for his first game above .500, and he stands at .477 (41 of 86) for his season.
“Regan is getting better every game and learning what it takes to play at this level,” Marr said.
Stony Brook’s top faceoff man is Ballston Spa graduate Austin Deskewiczz, a junior who is 73 of 117 (.624) this season.
The Seawolves lost three straight to Hofstra (20-17), UMBC (13-12) and Syracuse (17-9) before winning their last two in convincing fashion, against NJIT and UMass Lowell.
Stony Brook’s second-year head coach, Anthony Gilardi, got the job after Stony Brook did not retain Jim Nagle on the heels of four straight conference tournament semifinal losses.
“We know it’s always just a gritty game,” John said. “They’ve gotten into a lot of two-man games, and their transition isn’t there, which is one good outlook for us, because Albany lacrosse is always just up and down the field.”
“Everyone was pretty rattled, kind of mad [about the suspensions],” John said. “We found out around 7 o’clock the night before the game, so it was really, really late notice. Maybe they could’ve figured it out Saturday, even Sunday and not wait ’til the night before.
“But we all stuck together, we’re a big family and they were still on the sideline with us. It just goes to show it’s the next-man-up mentality and also shows that our team is really deep right now, especially with three great players out.”
“I don’t know if ‘regret’ is the word,” Marr said. “I think they were all disappointed, as we all were, that they had to sit out. But they practiced fine, they were excited and they’re ready to go. When it comes to stuff like that, we have no control over their decision to suspend them, so we just dealt with it and went out and had a good team win [Tuesday], and we’re ready to move on.”