The eighth renewal of the Capital Region’s Division I men’s lacrosse rivalry ultimately was decided by a one-on-one confrontation between Siena’s All-American goalie and University at Albany’s high-scoring attacker.
Junior Brian Caufield, whose 25-game scoring streak is tied for fifth-best in the nation, raced into the offensive zone after a Siena turnover and fired a shot at Siena senior goalie Brent Herbst, who got a piece of the ball and deflected it toward one of his defensemen as time expired.
Herbst’s clutch save helped Siena turn back the Great Danes, 13-12, before a crowd of 1,224 Tuesday night at John Fallon Field. It was the first Siena win in the series.
Siena (1-2) had a 13-10 lead with 2:15 remaining after Ryan Duggin scored his second goal of the game. But the Great Danes (0-2) fought back on goals by Caufield and Kyle Brunk to pull within a goal with 1:17 to play.
Derek Kreuzer’s point-blank shot with 50 seconds left was repelled by Herbst, and Siena quickly moved back toward its offensive end, but the Danes double-teamed a Siena attacker and forced a turnover that led to Albany’s final scoring attempt in transition.
“I got my stick on it, and I tried to score. We didn’t have much time, and we thought a quick transition goal was all we could do,” said Caufield, who had two goals and two assists. “Siena is a good team, and they played better than we did tonight.”
“I was trying to make up for some tough plays at the end,” said Herbst, who made 12 saves. “We had a four-goal lead at one point, and I started getting flashes of what happened last year [an 8-7 double-overtime win for Albany at Siena]. I was fortunate to get my stick on it, and the ball deflected to my defenseman. If he didn’t get his stick on it, as well, the ball might have gone in. It worked out well.
“This means a lot for our program.”
Sophomore attacker Bryan Neufeld, one of six scholarship players for the Saints, agreed that the game was a turning point for the Saints.
“This feels really good,” he said. “Last year, they snuck it out, and this year, we snuck it out. Albany is a top-20 ranked team, and Johns Hopkins was ranked fourth, and we only lost to them by one goal. We’ve got confidence now.”
Siena, which has two UAlbany alumni on its coaching staff, dominated the faceoffs, winning 21 of 29. Senior midfielder Bryan Hale won draw after draw for the Saints, helping them to maintain possession most of the game.
“The Hopkins game was big for us, because it gave us confidence against a top-five team,” said Siena coach Brian Brecht. “Albany has been a top-20 team for the last seven or eight years. For us, when I came here six years ago, Albany was always our measuring stick. We want to continue to raise the bar.”
Brecht said he wasn’t concerned that Albany would tie the game up on the final play.
“We have an All-American goalie, and we’re going to ride him,” he said.
Neufeld finished with four goals and an assist, and Shaun Dunn and Danny Martinsen added two goals each for Siena.
Dave Brock scored three times, and Matt Johnson and Joe Resetarits chipped in with two goals each for Albany.
When asked if the Siena program, which earned its first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship and inaugural NCAA tournament berth a year ago, had finally caught up to the Albany program, coach Scott Marr didn’t back down.
“They beat us. They won the game,” he said. “But there isn’t a team in Division I that can’t beat another team or lose to another team. It’s a very balanced division.”
Siena 3 4 3 3 – 13
Albany 3 3 2 4 – 12
Siena scoring: Bryan Neufeld 4-1, Shaun Dunn 2-1, Ryan Duggan 2-1, Danny Martinsen 2-0, Chris Roth 1-0, Chris D’Alberti 1-0, Bryan Hale 1-0, Kyle Curry 0-1. Albany scoring: Dave Brock 3-0, Brian Caufield 2-2, Matt Johnson 2-1, Joe Resetarits 2-0, Joe Pompo 1-1, Derek Kreuzer 1-0, Kyle Brunk 1-0, Kyle Crotty 0-1.
Goalies: Siena, Brent Herbst, 12 saves, Albany, John Carroll, 13 saves.