Nobody wanted to hear about the labor pains of this game, they just wanted to see the baby.
Conor Prunty gave Siena a 10-9 lead with 50.6 seconds left, and goalie Matt Sharp stopped Ryan Feuerstein’s low shot to the left post as time expired to preserve the victory over No. 10 UAlbany at Siena Turf Field on Tuesday.
It was the Saints’ first-ever win over a team in the top 10 and only its second over a ranked team.
The Great Danes (10-4) played without two of the best offensive players in the country, Lyle Thompson, the national leader in points per game, and his brother, Miles, who was held out of the game as a precautionary measure after suffering a hard hit against UMBC last Friday.
Lyle Thompson missed the game when he was recalled to his home in the Onondaga Nation near Syracuse for the birth of his second child.
Although UAlbany head coach Scott Marr compared it to playing without Michael Jordan, he refused to use the Thompsons’ absence as an excuse for the loss.
Likewise, the Saints (6-8) refused to view the victory as anything short of one of the biggest in program history, coming as it did against the leading offense in the country.
“They still have an awesome offense,” Prunty said. “And their defense is good, and they have one of the best goalies in the country. They beat Hopkins without Lyle Thompson scoring any points, so that shows how potent the rest of their team is.”
“I know 2 [Miles Thompson] was hurt recently, but we prepared as if they were going to play, and our guys did a great job with the gameplan,” said Siena second-year head coach John Svec, a former UAlbany assistant.
“It’s a top-10 program, and they’re a deep, deep team. We’ve been in a lot of close games, and I’m proud of how the guys responded.”
“It’s a rivalry game; you throw out the records,” Marr said. “We just didn’t have the energy, emotionally, as a team, and they did. They took advantage of it.”
The Great Danes still had the Thompsons’ cousin, Ty, who leads the team in goals (41) after scoring eight against UMBC, but he played behind the net more than usual and didn’t even get a shot until there was less than six minutes left in the third quarter.
Guarded much of the game by Erik Casparius, he was held without a point and had a 25-game goal-scoring streak stopped.
Still, the Great Danes were in position to win after Derrick Eccles gave them a 9-8 lead with 5:08 left.
Prunty, a sophomore from Yorktown Heights, tied it with 3:10 left, and Siena had possession and called timeout with 1:23 left.
Prunty drove left on Jon Newhouse, dipped his right shoulder and found a spot for his left-handed shot in the top left corner over the shoulder of freshman goalie Blaze Riordan, Prunty’s fourth of the game and 28th of the season.
“I was able to catch my guy and put my shoulder down and sneak one through,” Prunty said. “I was leaning down, hoping the goalie would go down with me, and he did. I saw an opening up top.
“When I got the ball up top and started to dodge, I wanted to take the shot, but I had my head up. Nobody slid to me, so nobody was open on the back side, so I just took the shot.”
UAlbany’s Kevin Glueckert won the faceoff, and the Danes called time with 35.9 seconds left.
Dwayne Stewart’s pass to Feuerstein was batted back toward midfield, and by the time Feuerstein got to it, he only had a few seconds left, so he drove toward the right post.
With no screens in the middle, Sharp saw Feuerstein’s low, hard outside shot all the way and made the save.
“Emotions were flying, and the energy was high,” Sharp said. “The guys did a great job putting it on the floor, and they ended up getting one last shot, but it was pretty far outside. I got a pretty good look at it.
“He was coming from the top of the box, so I knew he was going to shoot it. I just got a good look at the ball, and luckily it went in my stick.”
“I’m screaming, ‘Get to 91 [Ty Thompson],’ because he’s going to switch and try to get the shot off,” Svec said. “We did a good job of playing sides. Inside, we didn’t want to let anything in, we felt like Matt could get on it, and he did.”
Sharp finished with 14 saves.
Eccles and Schenectady High School graduate Tim Cox each scored two goals for UAlbany.
The Great Danes had won 15 of the last 16 games between the teams, but Siena has been getting closer in recent years.
The last five games, including two one-goal wins by the Saints since 2010, have been decided by a total of six goals.
“You take Michael Jordan out of the lineup, the team’s going to be different, you know what I mean?” Marr said, chuckling. “But we didn’t play as well as we’re capable of playing, and they did.
“No, I don’t throw this one out. We’re competing for a top eight spot in the country. This loss is going to hurt us. Now we’re looking at having to win our conference tournament, for sure, and not getting homefield advantage in the first round, so it’s a big loss. It hurts, but it’s over now.”
“I told the guys, this is like when you’re a kid and you go down the block and it’s almost like a pickup game at that point,” Svec said. “You want to win, because you know you’re going to see them in school tomorrow. But let’s be realistic. We still have to win our conference tournament.”
“You can’t help but think of it [Thompsons not in the lineup], but we still know how good they are, and it came right down to the wire, as usual,” Prunty said.
UAlbany 3 1 2 3 — 9
Siena 1 4 2 3 — 10
UAlbany scoring: Derrick Eccles 2-0, Tim Cox 2-0, Ryan Feuerstein 1-2, John Maloney 1-1, Will Stenberg 1-1, Mic DeBellis 1-0, Dwayne Stewart 1-0, Blaze Riordan 0-1. Siena scoring: Conor Prunty 4-0, Richie Hurley 1-3, Danny Martinson 1-2, Colin Clive 1-2, Ryan Mallon 1-0, Thomas Schoener 1-0, Nate Barry 0-1.
Goaltenders: UAlbany, Blaze Riordan, 9 saves. Siena, Matt Sharp, 14 saves.