ALBANY — All season, the University at Albany men’s lacrosse players and coaches have gushed about the support they have received at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium.
In the final weekend of games across the nation played at home sites, that support was tops in the nation.
UAlbany’s 18-9 win Saturday against Richmond was played in front of an announced crowd of 4,800, a figure no other NCAA men’s lacrosse tournament game matched over the weekend.
“We loved it,” UAlbany redshirt senior JD Colarusso said Monday of the environment created for the Great Danes, who are seeded No. 2 in this year’s national tournament and play Denver next Saturday in Hempstead.
A year ago, UAlbany set a national attendance record for an NCAA first round game, when 6,472 fans flooded into Casey Stadium on a stormy night to watch the Great Danes top defending national champion North Carolina. That mark also set a program attendance record.
Momentum from that game carried into this season, as UAlbany set a new program average attendance record, with an average 2,684 fans showing up for the Great Danes’ 10 home games.
“I love coming out here and seeing a couple thousand people,” UAlbany freshman Tehoka Nanticoke said. “I look out at the fans and that gets me into the game right away.”
This past weekend’s eight first round games had a combined attendance of 17,477. After UAlbany, the next highest attendance was 3,465 for Cornell at Syracuse.
UAlbany’s crowd of 4,800 accounted for 27.5 percent of this past weekend’s overall nationwide attendance. The country’s seven other games had an average attendance of 1,811. UAlbany outdrew the combined attendance of Saturday’s other three games — UMass at Yale, Villanova at Duke and Virginia at Loyola — by 10 spectators.
With no more home games left for any team in the country, UAlbany finished the season ranked fourth in the country in average attendance and second in overall attendance at 26,840. Syracuse finished No. 1 in both.
“The showing we’ve had here for our games this year says a lot about our team’s style and how we play,” Nanticoke said. “It’s exciting.”
UAlbany, which is 15-2 on the season, ranks first nationally in scoring offense and second in scoring defense — and went 10-0 at home this season.
The program’s previous best attendance year was in 2015, when the Great Danes drew an average crowd of 2,381.