This return to Tom & Mary Casey Stadium, it’s a visit that TD Ierlan is excited to make.
“Definitely looking forward to this one a lot more than the last one,” Ierlan said earlier this week.
That “last one” was when Ierlan played in April 2019 against so many of his former UAlbany men’s lacrosse teammates following his transfer to Yale, which had defeated the Great Danes in the past year’s national semifinals. The record-setting faceoff specialist returns this time as a member of the Redwoods of the Premier Lacrosse League, which brings two games apiece Friday, Saturday and Sunday to the UAlbany campus.
Ierlan, one of several PLL players with connections to the Capital Region, will play Friday and Sunday. During his college career, which ended this past spring with a season played for Denver, Ierlan rewrote large portions of the NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse’s record book with all the faceoffs he won and ground balls he secured. This summer, Ierlan — a Victor native — leads the PLL in faceoff winning percentage at 66.8% and is second in ground balls with 73.
“It’s been awesome. I was super lucky to be drafted by the Redwoods and I’ve been super fortunate that we’ve had a fair amount of success so far,” said Ierlan, whose 4-3 team is tied for third place in the eight-team PLL, a touring professional league that wraps its regular season this weekend.
When Ierlan returned to UAlbany as an opposing player in 2019, he said that night the contest was the “toughest game I’ve ever had to play.” This year’s trip will be much different, and the 23-year-old said he’s thrilled to get the chance this weekend to compete again at a stadium where he starred for two years.
“It’s going to be awesome to play in front of an upstate crowd,” said Ierlan, who said he’s expecting approximately 50 family members and friends to make the trip to Casey Stadium this weekend.
SCORING LEADERS ARE BACK
Lyle Thompson ended his UAlbany career as the all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse history, while a knee injury during Connor Fields’ senior season kept him from making a serious run at that record.
Both former Great Danes stars return to play at UAlbany this weekend, with Fields competing Friday and Sunday for the Archers, and Thompson’s Cannons playing Saturday night.
“So pumped for this weekend,” Fields said. “Albany has the best lacrosse fans in the country.”
Fields was a member of the PLL’s Chaos when the league played at Casey Stadium in 2019, and a sold-out crowd of 6,472 was in attendance for that year’s Saturday-night game that featured several former Great Danes. Thompson played at that time in Major League Lacrosse — which the PLL absorbed in a merger late last year — so this Saturday’s game will mark Thompson’s return to competition on his old campus for the first time since the Great Danes defeated Stony Brook in the 2015 America East Conference championship game.
“Just him being back in Albany, that’s going to be something special to watch,” the 25-year-old Fields said.
Thompson is tied for the PLL lead in points this season with 29, while Fields has registered 15.
PLAYING NEAR HOME
The last time Stephen Rehfuss played at UAlbany, he led the Shaker High School boys’ lacrosse team against Niskayuna in the 2015 Section II Class A championship game on the campus’ John Fallon Field.
Rehfuss, a Latham native who finished up his career at Syracuse this past spring, is a member of the Cannons. Getting to play a professional lacrosse game, on a team that includes players who are “complete idols” for Rehfuss, just a few miles from home is something Rehfuss described as surreal.
“Growing up, I was watching guys like Lyle Thompson, Paul Rabil and Brodie Merrill. They’re three of the biggest legends of the game,” Rehfuss said of his teammates. “To be on their team, but also to be playing in the area where I grew up playing and learning how to play, it’s definitely going to be a cool experience.”
Stephen Rehfuss — whose sister Abby Rehfuss is the Siena women’s lacrosse coach — is tied for eighth in the league in scoring with 22 points. His parents and five sisters will be among the supporters in the crowd Saturday at Casey Stadium.
“I’m super excited I get the chance to play close to home,” Stephen Rehfuss said.
— — —
Redwoods vs. Whipsnakes, 6 p.m.
Archers vs. Chaos, 8:30 p.m.
Atlas vs. Waterdogs, 4:15 p.m.
Cannons vs. Chrome, 7 p.m.
Chaos vs. Redwoods, 2 p.m.
Archers vs. Whipsnakes, 4:45 p.m.
More from The Daily Gazette: