Clutch performances by some unheralded Great Danes helped the University at Albany pull out a key victory Saturday night at Casey Stadium.
Derrick Eccles scored a goal off a turnover and a setup from Connor Fields with 6:09 remaining, and Bennett Drake, who entered the game with nine goals, scored four times to propel the Great Danes to a 12-8 victory over Binghamton, clinching the No. 1 seed and hosting rights for the America East Conference tournament.
UAlbany, ranked sixth in the USILA Coaches Poll and seventh in the Inside Lacrosse Media Poll, improved to 5-0 in conference play and 9-2 overall. The Great Danes travel to Yale Saturday and then host Siena April 26 in a pair of non-conference games before wrapping up the reg-ular season April 30 at UMBC. UAlbany then hosts the conference tournament May 5-7 back at Casey Stadium.
“This was one of our goals this season: to clinch the
No. 1 seed and host the tournament,” UAlbany head coach Scott Marr said. “It will be nice to play the tournament here in front of our fans.”
Marr felt that winning a close, competitive game will go a long way toward prepping his team for postseason play.
“The last three games, we had big leads in the fourth quarter, and kind of let up a little bit,” he said. “This game was close, and we had to remain focused.
“You can’t take any team’s record for granted. Binghamton played a very good game against us, and their goalie was superb in the second half. Otherwise, we could have scored a lot more goals. Today, we needed to play 60 minutes, and we did.”
Seth Oakes scored three goals to increase his total to 30.
“They [the Bearcats] played hard against us. They are a good team,” Oakes said. “Every win is important for us. We’ve got to play hard against everybody.”
Drake, rarely the Great Danes’ first scoring option, had a superb all-around game with five points.
“The guys found me in great position for some good shots,” he said. “This game was very important, because it locked up home field in the tournament for us. I think we took advantage of some big turnovers tonight. We had some huge goals in transition. Although we love John Fallon Field, we also enjoy the atmosphere here. It’s different.”
Binghamton (2-2, 4-7) outshot UAlbany 41-35. Senior goalie Blaze Riorden made 15 saves for the Great Danes. He is currently third on the program’s all-time save list with 795, and also third in Division I this season with 13.4 saves per game.
Kyle McClancy, a sophomore midfielder from Bayport, received the first Daniel Barnes Scholarship before the game. Barnes, who died of cancer in March of 2015, was a two-sport athlete for the Great Danes. He played football from 2003-06, serving as team captain as a senior, and played lacrosse in 2006-07.
“It’s a tremendous honor to receive the Daniel Barnes Memorial Scholarship,”
McClancy said. “He was a great role model for us.”
Binghamton 3 3 1 1 — 8
UAlbany 3 5 1 3 — 12
Binghamton scoring: Zach Scaduto 3-0, Johnny Maher 2-2, Ben Kocis 1-0, Thomas McAdrew 1-0, Mitchell Rick 1-0, Liam Reaume 0-1. UAlbany scoring: Bennett Drake 4-1, Seth Oakes 3-0, John Maloney 1-3, Kyle McClancy 1-0, Justin Reh 1-0, Derrick Eccles 1-0, Connor Fields 1-2, Jack Burgmaster 0-1, AJ Kluck 0-1.
Goalies: Binghamton, Sam Sanko, 1 save; Tanner Cosens, 9 saves; UAlbany, Blaze Riorden, 15 saves.