ALBANY — Coming off a 12-day break, the UAlbany men’s lacrosse team did exactly what it needed to Saturday against NJIT to set the team up for the last week of the regular season — and results around the rest of the America East on Saturday have the Great Danes heading into their final two games with their chances at securing the top seed for the conference tournament notably improved.
Jakob Patterson had two goals and four assists, Graydon Hogg scored four second-half goals and freshman Peter Salit had two goals and two assists in an 18-8 win at John Fallon Field over conference newcomer NJIT, while UMBC’s 14-13 overtime win against Stony Brook and Binghamton’s 10-7 upset over Vermont mean that the top four teams in the America East enter the final week of the regular season with two losses apiece.
UAlbany (5-2 America East, 7-3 overall) currently sits in fourth place. UMBC is in first place at 6-2, holding a tiebreaker over 6-2 Stony Brook thanks to a pair of head-to-head wins. Vermont and UAlbany are both 5-2, and while the Catamounts beat UAlbany when the teams met March 12 at Fallon Field, the squads are scheduled to meet again Wednesday in Burlington, Vermont.
If UAlbany wins against Vermont and in its season finale next Saturday against Hartford, coupled with a Vermont win next Saturday against Stony Brook, it would give UAlbany the inside track to the regular-season league title and hosting the four-team conference tournament by virtue of its head-to-head win over UMBC earlier this month.
“That’s the scenario we need to play out,” UAlbany head coach Scott Marr said. “We’re hoping that we can go up and take care of business for ourselves on Wednesday, and then obviously Saturday against Hartford, and then see how Vermont plays Stony Brook. It’s huge.”
Having not played since that 14-9 win against UMBC on April 11, UAlbany came out firing in its first-ever matchup with NJIT (1-7, 1-9), responding to an early Highlanders goal with six straight tallies in the first quarter.
UAlbany’s cushion never shrunk to less than three goals over the final three quarters, and while NJIT used a 5-2 run to close the third quarter to make it 13-8, the Great Danes put up a 5-0 margin in the fourth quarter to turn the game into a runaway.
“They put us in a tough position,” Patterson said. “Fourth quarter, we came out again firing and got the result we wanted.”
“The fourth quarter, five-goal game, we really had to lock it down,” said UAlbany goaltender Liam Donnelly, who finished with eight saves. “Kind of just playing for each other at that point. That’s just a pride thing. We weren’t really happy with how we played the first three quarters, and we really wanted to lock it down.”
Alongside Patterson, Salit and Hogg, UAlbany also got multi-goal games from Kyle Casey, Corey Yunke and Teioshontathe McComber, plus three assists from Camden Hay. Salit’s two-goal, two-assist game equaled the freshman’s production in his six prior appearances this season.
NJIT 2 1 5 0 — 8
UAlbany 6 4 3 5 — 18
NJIT scoring: Fogerty 1-2, Willson 1-1, Wilson 2-0, Corry 2-0, Bowie 1-0, Hickey 1-0. UAlbany scoring: Patterson 2-4, Salit 2-2, Hogg 4-0, Casey 2-1, Yunker 2-1, C. Hay 0-3, McComber 2-0, John 1-1, Tucker 2-0, T. Hay 0-1, Kunz 0-1, Piseno 1-0. Goalies: NJIT, Brown, 6 saves; Zell, 8 saves. UAlbany, Donnelly, 8 saves.