In most sports, defense trumps offense in the playoffs.
University at Albany’s high-powered men’s lacrosse team will test that theory when the Great Danes’ travel to No. 3 seed Loyola in the first round of the NCAA tournament Saturday at noon at the Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
UAlbany (11-5), ranked 15th in the USILA Coaches Poll and 14th in the Warrior DI Media Poll, features two of the most prolific point producers in NCAA history in brothers Lyle and Miles Thompson. Lyle Thompson (45 goals, 69 assists, 114 points) is tied with Steve Marohl (37-77-114) for the most points in a single season in NCAA history, while Miles Thompson (74-34-108) is only eight goals shy of the single-season goal-scoring record.
“It’s definitely a team effort with us, but the Thompsons are so unique. I’ve never seen anything like them,” said UAlbany head coach Scott Marr. “It will be a challenge to beat Loyola with its great defense, but it will also be a challenge for them to stop our offense. The one thing I’ve been told from other coaches is that it’s extremely difficult to simulate the Thompsons with their scout team or in practice.
“We know who we are, and we’re excited to play. It will be an uphill battle, but we’re ready for the challenge. We’ve been playing our best lacrosse after the Johns Hopkins game.”
Miles Thompson, who owns the nation’s longest active goal-scoring streak in Division I with 30 straight, pointed out that the Great Danes have scored plenty of goals against some of the toughest defensive teams in the country this year, including UMass, Johns Hopkins and Syracuse.
“We’ve faced some very good teams, and we still score,” he said. “We heard the guys talk [on the NCAA selection show] that we haven’t faced a great defense yet, but that’s their job, to try to be controversial. No matter who we play, we just play our own game. We don’t care if we [the Great Danes] score just five or six goals, as long as we win.
“The only reason our points and goals are important is that they lead to wins. That’s all we care about. If they shut us [the Thompsons] down, our middies will step up and score. They have really come on for us.
“We have a great group with tremendous chemistry. The wins are the most important thing. The points will come.”
Loyola (15-1), the Patriot League champion, is ranked No. 1 in the USILA Coaches Poll and finished the year with a 15-game winning streak. The Greyhounds won the national title in 2012.
Junior attack Nikko Pontrello is the team’s leading scorer with 50 goals, while senior Jack Runkel, the starting goalie in the title game two years ago, has a 61.9 save percentage and allows 6.91 goals per game.