Before the pairings were announced for the men’s Division I NCAA lacrosse tournament, Syracuse’s John Desko uttered what most of his coaching brethren probably were thinking about the University at Albany.
“They’re probably every team’s worst fear,” Desko said of the America East champion Great Danes, whose creative, high-powered attack is difficult to defend.
The UAlbany stars are Native American brothers Miles and Lyle Thompson, who, along with cousin Ty, have combined for 166 goals and 122 assists in a record-setting season.
Miles, a senior, leads the nation with 79 goals — just three shy of the all-time record set in 1990 by Jon Reese of Yale in 18 games — and also has 36 assists for 115 points, second all-time; Lyle, a junior, has 48 goals and 74 assists for 122 points, a Division I record; and Ty, a senior, has 39 goals and 12 assists.
“We’ve gotten positive feedback from random fans and people that email us and text us,” Albany coach Scott Marr said. “I think we’re gaining a lot of momentum from the positive vibe that’s out there for our team to do well. People want to see these guys continue to play, and play on the biggest stage.”
Despite all that offensive prowess, the Great Danes can play some defense, too. They upset top-ranked and third-seeded Loyola, 13-6, on the road in the opening round for their eighth straight win, holding the Greyhounds to their lowest scoring output of the season. Loyola had won 15 straight since dropping its season opener to Virginia in overtime.
The quarterfinals begin today with UAlbany facing ACC tournament champion and No. 6 seed Notre Dame (10-5), which easily beat Harvard, 13-5, in the opening round. The other matchup features No. 7 Maryland (12-3) against Bryant (16-4); on Sunday, Johns Hopkins (11-4) meets top-seeded and defending national champion Duke (14-3), and No. 5 Denver (15-2) plays Drexel (13-4).
Some things to know about the men’s Division I lacrosse quarterfinals, with today’s games at Hofstra University and Sunday’s matchups at the University of Delaware:
PARITY TIME: Besides UAlbany, three other teams still in the running for the national championship are unseeded: Bryant beat No. 2 seed Syracuse, 10-9; Drexel topped No. 4 seed Penn, 16-11; and Johns Hopkins beat No. 8 Virginia, 14-8, in the opening round.
“That speaks volumes of how competitive it is,” Marr said.
BULLDOGS RULE: Bryant, a small school in Rhode Island, has been in Division I for just six years, but under former Duke coach Mike Pressler the Bulldogs have morphed into a real threat. A year ago, they nearly upset Syracuse in the opening round and this year got the job done — in the Carrier Dome, no less — to reach the quarterfinals for the first time. Pressler called the triumph “monumental.” Bryant, which has won five straight, also defeated Drexel (12-6) and Albany (12-11) in March.
DRAGONS SLAY: Drexel used a 7-0 run against Penn to win its ninth straight game and now faces defensive-minded Denver. Penn outshot Drexel, 47-45, but the Dragons won 11 more faceoffs and had 40 ground balls to Penn’s 31. Denver, which beat North Carolina, 9-5, in the first round for its 12th straight victory, lost to Duke (14-10) in the second game of the season and to Penn (12-10) on March 1.
NATIVE TOUCH: In Albany’s first-round victory over Loyola, Lyle Thompson had three goals and five assists, Miles had five goals and two assists, and Ty chipped in with three goals, giving the Mohawk Indian trio 18 points in the game. Out West, Denver freshman Zach Miller, from the Allegany Indian Reservation in western New York, had two goals and an assist in the Pioneers’ 9-5 victory over North Carolina in the first round.