The UAlbany men’s lacrosse team finished the regular season by not finishing scoring plays on Wednesday.
The Great Danes were supposed to have played Hartford for Senior Night on Saturday, but after that game was canceled, UAlbany trudges into the America East playoffs on the heels of a 16-14 loss on a gray, soggy day at Vermont.
Except for a 7-7 tie in the second quarter, the Great Danes trailed almost the entire way, despite defensively riding the Catamounts into 25 turnovers. UAlbany couldn’t get its transition game going, though, and it took a pair of goals inside the final 30 seconds of the game to tighten up Vermont’s winning margin.
“We didn’t play with poise,” head coach Scott Marr said. “We got some turnovers, and then we didn’t capitalize on them. They turned the ball over on the ride a bunch of times in the second quarter … we could’ve had seven, eight goals in that second quarter if we just finish the ball.”
Having clinched the No. 4 seed, the Great Danes (5-3, 7-4) will play in the America East semifinals next Thursday, most likely at UMBC.
The Retrievers are tied with Vermont and Stony Brook at 6-2, but UMBC holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over both and closes out the regular season against last-place NJIT, while Vermont and Stony Brook are scheduled to play against each other.
The Great Danes had been looking forward to the Vermont rematch since losing 14-12 on March 13, with the potential to host the semifinals with wins over the Catamounts and Hartford. The UAlbany-Hartford game was canceled early in the week because of COVID-19 protocols at Hartford.
“We had to win today for it to even be a scenario, so it doesn’t even matter now,” Marr said. “Like I said before, I wish they hadn’t told us before this game. It was a distraction we didn’t need. It still doesn’t make up for us not playing well.”
UAlbany fell behind 4-1 midway through the first quarter, but got it back to 7-7 midway through the second on goals by Kyle Casey, Corey Yunker and freshman Peter Salit, the AE Rookie of the Week last week for his two-goal, two-assist performance in an 18-8 win over NJIT.
The Great Danes had the ball with a minute left in the half, and after a timeout, Ron John lost the handle with 20 seconds left to leave it at 7-7 at halftime.
“We get the tie, we had the ball at the end of the second quarter with a chance to go ahead,” Marr said. “And Ron goes to make a fake or whatever, the ball flies out of his stick and we lose the ball. We just made too many mental mistakes on the defensive end, and offense, as well.”
Like the Catamounts did to start the game, they outscored UAlbany 4-1 in the early stages of the third quarter and extended their lead further, to 13-8.
Back-to-back goals by Kyle Casey cut it to 15-12 with 5:55 left in the fourth, but the Great Danes couldn’t get another one past goalie Ryan Cornell until 26.5 seconds left.
UAlbany’s offensive woes included a stagnant transition game, a trademark of the Great Danes’ attack.
“They dropped back a little bit, but I didn’t think [goalie] Liam [Donnelly] was great in getting the ball out,” Marr said. “For some reason we were a little hesitant getting up and out. We didn’t get it going at all.”
He expects the Great Danes to get it going next Thursday, though. Both semifinals will be held at the No. 1 seed’s homefield, and the AE championship will be Saturday, May 8.
“Absolutely. We haven’t played a full game yet,” Marr said. “This point in the season, we’re still waiting for that full game. That’s what we talked about in the locker room just now. We need to put our best foot forward, start playing with some poise and a stronger mental game.”
UAlbany 3 4 2 5 — 14
Vermont 5 2 6 3 — 16
UAlbany scoring: Yunker 4-0, Casey 2-2, Salit 2-0, Burgmaster 2-0, Hogg 2-1, John 1-0, Tucker 1-0, Patterson 0-4, Piseno 0-1. Vermont scoring: McConvey 4-1, Limoges 3-2, Iaria 2-1, Closterman 2-1, Haley 2-0, McCormack 2-2, Fenech 1-0. Goalies: UAlbany, Donnelly, 10 saves. Vermont, Cornell, 15 saves.