The Thompson trio era at University at Albany ended with tears of wasted opportunity washing away the tremendous sense of achievement for the men’s lacrosse team.
Up, 12-7, with 11:49 left in regulation, the Great Danes didn’t have an answer for Notre Dame’s furious comeback, and the Fighting Irish surged to a 14-13 overtime victory in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals Saturday before a sellout crowd of 13,519 at Hofstra’s Jack Shuart Stadium.
Sophomore attack Matt Kavanagh rifled in the game-winner 2:31 into the sudden-death extra period to send 11-4 Notre Dame against Maryland in Saturday’s semifinals at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
The Great Danes, who lead the nation in scoring with the fabulous Thompson family, finish up at 12-6. Two Thompsons — Miles and Ty — graduate, leaving only Lyle to continue next season.
Sophomore goalie Blaze Riorden was under constant pressure from Notre Dame, and was forced to make 14 saves. But he couldn’t stop Kavanagh in OT.
“He made a hard move, got to the middle and put up a hard shot,” said Riorden. “He made a great play. Obviously, I didn’t see it.”
Notre Dame, the sixth seed, jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but the Great Danes settled down and eventually grabbed their first advantage, 8-7, as the Thompsons put on a dazzling show with behind the back and various off-balance flip shots that frustrated the Irish.
“I told them in the locker room that they formed a brotherhood I’ve never seen,” said UAlbany coach Scott Marr. “I’ve always told them to play hard and accept the outcome. I thought their effort was outstanding. Falling in a hole, 4-0, and coming back like that was amazing.
“I’m so proud of this program and how they’ve changed the look of lacrosse.”
Despite being dominated in two key categories, face-offs (winning only 10 of 31) and ground balls (losing 39 of 63), the Great Danes outscored the Fighting Irish, 5-1, in the third period and won the huge crowd over early in the fourth quarter.
But after building a five-goal cushion, the Danes had trouble getting the ball to the Thompsons. Meanwhile, Notre Dame began to double-team on defense, and the Fighting Irish scored six of the next seven goals, including sophomore Sergio Perkovic’s goal with 3:02 left to knot the score at 13-13.
The Danes had several scoring opportunities in the final minutes, but came up empty.
Lyle Thompson finished with three goals and three assists. He ended his junior season with the NCAA single-season records for points (128) and assists. Miles Thompson, a senior, tied the single-season mark for goals (82).
“I just wanted to play as hard as I could,” said Lyle Thompson. “I gave it my all. I think we all did.”
“Playing my last game in my college game with my brother and cousin was special,” added Miles Thompson. “But it looks like I will be back next season. Coach has asked me to come back as an assistant coach, and I would love to do it.”
UAlbany 3 2 5 3 0 — 13
Notre Dame 4 2 1 6 1 — 14
UAlbany scoring — Lyle Thompson 3-3, Miles Thompson 3-1, Ty Thompson 2-0, Ryan Feuerstein 1-0, Matt Bertrams 1-0, John Maloney 1-0, Doug Eich 0-1. Notre Dame scoring — Matt Kavanagh 3-0, Conor Doyle 2-3, John Scioscia 2-0, Serrgio Perkovic 2-0, Nick Ossello 2-0, Westy Hopkins 2-0, Trevor Brosco 1-0, Eddy Lubowicki 0-1, Jack Near 0-1.
Goalkeepers — UAlbany, Blaze Riorden, 14 saves. Notre Dame, Connor Kelly, 6 saves.