ALBANY — Walking along a path next to Tom & Mary Casey Stadium on the campus of the University at Albany, Troy Reh smiled as he described the chance he’ll get Saturday night to play on his old home field.
“I didn’t think we'd be able to come back here to play unless it was for an alumni game,” Reh said Friday.
Instead, five former Great Danes will play 8 p.m. Saturday night at Casey Stadium as part of the Premier Lacrosse League’s final regular-season weekend. A traveling professional league in its first year, the PLL includes six teams that have brought its fast-paced brand of lacrosse to various cities throughout the summer.
Reh is one of five former Great Danes — and USILA All-Americans — who will play for the PLL’s Chaos, a team that practiced Friday night on a grass field on the UAlbany campus. Other UAlbany alumni on the Chaos are Connor Fields, Kyle McClancy, Blaze Riorden and Miles Thompson.
“It’s unbelievable [being back here]. Those were the best four years of my life, playing lacrosse here for coach [Scott] Marr,” said McClancy who graduated in 2018 along with Reh and Fields after helping lead the Great Danes to their program’s only appearance in the national semifinals. “It was always an unbelievable atmosphere. . . . I’m just super-excited to be back. It’s crazy the nostalgia and the feelings I have right now.”
The Chaos play against the Atlas, while Sunday’s doubleheader of PLL games at Casey Stadium starts at 1:30 p.m. with a matchup between the Redwoods and Chrome and finishes with a 4:30 p.m. game with the Whipsnakes and Archers. The Chrome’s roster includes former UAlbany players Brett Queener and Ty Thompson, as well as Niskayuna High School graduate John Prendergast, who played at Duke University.
Several dozen fans showed up Friday to watch the Chaos’ practice. The team’s — and likely the league’s — top star is Fields, while Thompson — who shared the 2014 Tewaaraton Award as a senior with his brother Lyle Thompson — returns to action this week after missing the last several weeks with an elbow injury.
Earlier this week, Miles Thompson said he was excited to get the chance to make his return on his old campus.
“Albany has a special place in my heart,” Thompson said.
None of the PLL’s teams have home cities. The expectation, though, is that Saturday’s crowd will be heavily pro-Chaos.
“This,” Thompson said, “is our home game.”
STRONG CROWD EXPECTED
Several days ago, the UAlbany ticket office’s Twitter account tweeted that “nearly 7,000 tickets” had already been sold for the PLL event.
Last weekend, the PLL had an announced attendance of 10,097 for three games played at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario. In its inaugural season, the PLL’s weekend attendances have ranged from last week’s season-low total to a season-high total of 16,701 for its trip in June to Homewood Field in Baltimore.
“It’s a tremendous honor they’re here,” UAlbany men’s lacrosse head coach Scott Marr said. “It’s the first year for the league and it goes all across the country with only 10 cities picked. . . . That speaks a lot to our program and what we’ve done here. It really speaks to our fan base and the support we get from our community.”
WHAT’S AT STAKE
The league-leading Chaos (7-2) and Whipsnakes (6-3) each have secured top-two seeds for the postseason, while the Archers, Atlas and Redwoods are all tied at 4-5. The Chrome is 2-7.
The PLL’s postseason starts next week, and the first-year league has a unique postseason format that essentially has a championship bracket plus a second bracket from which the winner will receive the No. 1 draft pick.
The league’s top four teams start in the championship bracket, with the No. 1 seed playing the No. 2 team, and the No. 3 squad playing the No. 4 team. The winner of the No. 1 vs. No. 2 game will instantly qualify for the championship game, while that game’s loser will play the winner of the No. 3 vs. No. 4 game for the chance to head to the championship game.
Meanwhile, the winner of a contest between the bottom two teams will automatically qualify for the game in which the winner receives next year’s No. 1 draft pick, while the loser of that game between the bottom teams will play the loser of the No. 3 vs. No. 4 contest for the right to advance to the game that sees its winner earn the top draft selection.