ALBANY — To start, the University at Albany men’s lacrosse dominated.
To finish, the Great Danes needed to find a way to survive.
“And we did a good job,” UAlbany head coach Scott Marr said after his team’s 9-7 win Saturday at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium against UMBC. “We didn’t let frustration win.”
UAlbany had a 6-0 run in the game’s first quarter to take early control, but found itself needing to get a defensive stop late in the fourth quarter of its America East Conference game with its lead down to one. Senior Matt Perla came up with the ground ball that secured that defensive stop, senior Jack Burgmaster successfully cleared the ball, and sophomore Tehoka Nanticoke followed soon after with a man-up goal with 1:08 to go to seal the much-needed win.
“Ball was on the ground. We got it up and out. We had a good clear and that was big,” Perla said of the defensive stop. “Those are the plays that win you games.”
“We buckled down on defense,” Marr said, “and got a big goal there at the end of the game on that man-up.”
UAlbany (4-1 AE, 5-6 overall) led UMBC (1-3, 3-7) 6-1 after one period, but the Great Danes only went into halftime up 7-3 after not scoring in the second quarter until Nanticoke assisted junior Jakob Patterson’s goal with 1.5 seconds left in the stanza.
“Just a great individual play by him,” Marr said of Nanticoke’s ability to keep the play alive against a pressuring UMBC defense.
Nanticoke, who was not made available to speak with reporters after the game, finished with three goals and an assist. Senior Sean Eccles added two goals and an assist, while junior goalie Nate Siekierski made 10 saves and sophomore Austin Jones won 13 of 19 faceoffs.
UAlbany’s win kept it tied for first place in the America East with Vermont, which beat the Great Danes last week.
“Big. Definitely a confidence booster,” Perla said of the bounce-back win. “I still think we can play so much better.”
The victory didn’t come without a cost for UAlbany. Sophomore Alex Burgmaster — who hurt his shoulder in last weekend’s game — had to be helped off the field in the third quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. Not long after, Alex Burgmaster — Jack Burgmaster’s younger brother — had a brace on his lower right leg and was using crutches as he watched the game’s conclusion.
“Absolutely,” Jack Burgmaster said when asked if it was tough for him to refocus after his brother’s injury. “Yeah. I wish him the best. I mean, he’s pound for pound one of the toughest kids on our team. Plays alongside with me, and when we play together, it’s just like in the backyard.”
Ahead 7-3 at halftime, UAlbany maintained at least a four-goal lead until early in the fourth quarter. UMBC got within a score with 4:42 to go, but Nanticoke’s final goal of the night provided UAlbany some cushion for the last minute.
“The message was to not let frustration win,” Marr said. “I think we were getting really frustrated with [UMBC’s] zone and we couldn’t score, and [UMBC’s goalie] was making some saves and we weren’t getting great shots. You could feel the frustration of not putting the ball in those last three quarters after [scoring] six in the first quarter.”
Up next for UAlbany is a matchup with No. 5 Yale, the program that eliminated the Great Danes in last year’s national semifinals — and the school that former UAlbany star faceoff specialist TD Ierlan transferred to last offseason after his record-setting sophomore season.
“Friday night game. Should be a packed house. It’ll be a good one,” Perla said. “But, yeah, we’re going to have to play a lot better to beat them.”
While UMBC defeated UAlbany last year, Yale was responsible for the Great Danes’ other two losses during their 16-3 season.
“I don’t know. I really don’t know what to expect, to be honest with you,” Marr said of how he expects his team to react to taking on Yale. “We’ll see when tomorrow comes, and when Monday comes, and we’ll see what our mood is when come in for practice.”
UMBC 1 2 1 3 — 7
UAlbany 6 1 1 1 — 9
UMBC scoring: Bohanan 2-0, McIntyre 1-0, Zichelli 1-0, Patschorke 1-0, Jordan 0-1, Thomas 1-0, Frawley 1-0. UAlbany scoring: Nanticoke 3-1, S. Eccles 2-1, Casey 1-1, Patterson 1-1, Laffin 0-1, McComber 1-0, Barrow 1-0, Cavallo 0-1, Schwab 0-1.
Goalies: UMBC, Lingner, 12 saves. UAlbany, Siekierski, 10 saves. Attendance: 2,180.