ALBANY — The UAlbany men’s lacrosse team will jump out of the fire and back into the frying pan for Sunday brunch this week.
The Great Danes took a break from conference play for a game in the typically hot, stuffy Carrier Dome on Thursday for a game against Syracuse, but will mix it up in the America East the rest of the way, starting with UMBC at noon on Sunday at Casey Stadium.
Only one game separates the top five teams in the conference, and UAlbany (3-2 AE, 5-3 overall) and UMBC (4-1, 5-1) are two of them, so this is important pivot point on the Great Danes’ season, if they are to secure a high seed in the conference tournament.
The Syracuse game had been tentatively scheduled for Friday, but was moved a day earlier, which affords UAlbany more time to recover from a 13-8 loss in which the Great Danes did not score over the final 18:23 of the game.
“I think having that extra day is going to be very helpful for our guys,” head coach Scott Marr said minutes after the Syracuse game. “The two days would’ve been pretty quick.
“It’s really hot in here. It was really hot, and it was very dry, as usual, so we need to get hydrated on the way home and into tomorrow and the next day to get ourselves back feeling good.
“We probably should play some more people on Sunday just to give some of these guys who played the whole game a little bit of a rest, especially on defense.”
The UAlbany defense played well against a high-powered Orange offense, but the Great Danes’ offense sputtered in the second half as it continues to adjust to the loss of star attack Tehoka Nanticoke, who was kicked off the team for “internal team issues.”
“I was very proud of how we played. I thought we played extremely hard,” Marr said.
“Our transition was as good as any. We’ve just got to execute a little better on offense. We were in that game in the fourth quarter, and that’s where we wanted to be, so a little disappointed that we lost, but we’ll certainly take some good positives from this and get ready for Sunday and a good UMBC team.”
UAlbany and UMBC haven’t played against each other in two years almost to the day.
The Retrievers, sixth in the Division I in defensive scoring average per-game (8.50) have beaten two teams that have already beaten the Great Danes, Stony Brook (13-12 in four overtimes) and Vermont (10-8).
UAlbany plays Vermont next weekend before closing the regular season against the two teams that are at the bottom of the standings, NJIT and Hartford.