ALBANY — After its latest win, there is little time to rest for the No. 1 University at Albany men’s lacrosse team.
“We’ve got to get ready for Canisius now,” UAlbany head coach Scott Marr said shortly after Saturday’s 21-5 win against Vermont. “It’s a quick turnaround.”
Tuesday’s 3 p.m. game at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium against the Golden Griffins is part of a 15-day sprint in which the Great Danes will play five games, a most-grueling-of-the-season stretch that started with Saturday’s blowout win against Vermont.
But UAlbany — the last remaining undefeated team in the country, at 6-0 — appears poised to handle the tough stretch. While a combination of preseason injuries and general inexperience left the Great Danes with questionable depth in several areas to start the season, UAlbany has started to find answers as its regular season’s first half nears its close.
“Our second group of kids have really, really improved these last two weeks,” Marr said. “[Volunteer assistant coach] Derrick Eccles runs our . . . scout team, and he’s done a great job of really preparing those guys for other teams’ stuff they have to run, but they’ve [also] improved, lacrosse-wise, in those two weeks.”
That showed in Saturday’s win, a victory in which senior Connor Fields and the rest of the team’s established stars took care of the heavy lifting against Vermont. The Great Danes led 9-0 before Vermont scored, and that strong start allowed UAlbany to give ample time to their reserves for much of the second half — and they produced.
“It didn’t matter who we put on the field,” Marr said. “They made plays.”
A week after using only 22 players in its win against Maryland, UAlbany deployed 41 against Vermont. With Fields and freshman Tehoka Nanticoke — who combined for seven goals and eight assists — resting for the majority of the second half, the Great Danes found other ways to keep scoring. UAlbany largely keyed its offense around sophomore Jakob Patterson — a starting attack last season who has shifted to a starting midfielder role this year because of Nanticoke’s arrival — and he responded by scoring five of his game-high seven goals in the second half.
But UAlbany also received contributions from new sources, too.
Sophomore Davis Diamond doubled his season’s points total with three assists, while freshman Kyle Casey scored his first collegiate goal.
Once sophomore TD Ierlan’s afternoon was complete after going 19 of 21 on faceoffs, freshman Anthony Altimari went 3 of 3, and freshman Austin Jones secured 2 of 4 faceoffs.
Finally, after redshirt senior JD Colarusso stopped eight of the 11 shots on goal he faced through three quarters, sophomore Nate Siekierski stopped four of the six he faced in the final period.
“Shows a lot about our depth,” Marr said of his reserves’ impact in Saturday’s second half.
But so did UAlbany’s impressive start against Vermont, an effort the team’s stars said the squad’s second-string players helped make possible through a tough week of practice.
“Our team,” Nanticoke said, “makes our team better.”