At this stage of their local rivalry, the University at Albany and Siena men’s lacrosse teams are far apart in both talent and experience.
With Connor Fields doing his best Lyle Thompson no-look, over-the-shoulder pass imitation, and the rest of his University at Albany teammates dominating all three areas of the field, the Great Danes bounced the Saints 17-8 in a non-conference match Tuesday night at Casey Stadium.
UAlbany, ranked fifth in the nation in both the USILA Coaches Poll and the Inside Lacrosse Cascade/Maverik Media Poll, won its eighth straight game to improve to 11-2 overall. The Great Danes lead the all-time series 27-11, including 12-2 in the Division I era. Siena drops to 3-9.
Fields, a 5-foot-11 sophomore attacker from East Amherst, was symbolic of the differences between the two local programs this year. One of three Great Danes on the Tewaaraton Watch List for the nation’s top player, Fields scored four goals and was credited with four assists. He notched a career-best five assists in UAlbany’s 14-13 overtime win at fourth-ranked Yale last Saturday and is becoming the kind of multi-talented player that the aforementioned Thompson was from 2012-2015.
“I thought they [Connors and Seth Oakes] played outstanding,” UAlbany head coach Scott Marr said. “Connor’s confidence is growing. He is dodging so much differently than he was before. His confidence in carrying and distributing the ball has really improved.”
“I’m trying to create more like Lyle did. I’m trying to figure out the play quicker,” Fields said. “I’m reading the defenses better and figuring out what to do. I think we’re a talented team across the board. We probably wore them down as the game went on. We got off to a slow start, because they threw a little different defense at us, but then we decided to play our own game.”
Marr said he still enjoys the rivalry aspect of this game, but he added that his team has more important goals than just beating the Saints.
“This is a non-league game. Sure, it’s for bragging rights. It’s still a rivalry game, and it’s a good, local game,” he said. “But I don’t think about beating Siena all summer. John [Siena head coach John Svec, a former UAlbany assistant coach] is a good coach, and I like seeing his team do well.”
Siena took an early 2-1 lead on goals by Michael Pettit and Jordan Barlow in a sloppy first period, but the Great Danes eventually took control, with Fields scoring three consecutive goals and assisting on the next two for a UAlbany 6-2 advantage. The Danes led 7-4 at the half and 11-7 after three periods.
“There is a huge improvement in the way we played this game compared to last year,” said Siena’s Chris Robertson, who had two goals. “They are a lot deeper than us. They have three or four good lines and groups of midfielders. We have two. It’s still a good crosstown rivalry. We have this game circled on our calendar.”
“We stuck to our game plan,” Svec said. “They are a really deep team with a lot of talent. Our defense needed to help us out more.”
Oakes, also on the Tewaaraton Watch List, added three goals for the Danes, who close out the regular season at UMBC on Saturday. They are hoping for a first-round home game in the NCAA Tournament.
“We started out slow, but we finished well,” Oakes said.
Siena 2 2 3 1 — 8
UAlbany 3 4 4 6 – 17
Siena scoring: Chris Robertson 2-2, Jordan Barlow 2-1, Brian Prunty 1-0, Michael Pettit 1-0, Tim Cousin 1-0, Kevin Cousin 1-0, Eric Munn 0-1, Jon-Michael Tokar 0-1. UAlbany scoring: Connor Fields 4-4, Justin Reh 3-0, She Oakes 3-0, Eli Lasda 2-1, Bennett Drake 1-1, John Maloney 1-1, Zach Ornstein 1-0, Adam Osika 1-0, Sean Eccles 1-0, Jake Cullen 0-1, John Glancy 0-1, Kyle McClancy 0-1, Troy Reh 0-1.
Goalies: Siena, Tommy Cordts, 3 saves; Tyler Lutjen, 0 saves; Aaron Lewis, 0 saves. UAlbany, Blaze Riorden, 10 saves.
Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected] or BobWeiner58 on Twitter.