ALBANY — Nate Siekierski doesn’t believe the UAlbany men’s lacrosse team that showed itself in Saturday’s season opener against Cornell is representative of the kind of team the Great Danes can be this season.
“Not in the slightest bit,” said Siekierski, UAlbany’s senior goalie.
UAlbany’s plan to rebound from its rocky 2019 season got off to a rough start Saturday afternoon at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium. The Great Danes’ 19-10 loss to Cornell was the program’s most lopsided home loss since a 15-0 shellacking at the hands of Stony Brook on April 24, 2010, and the worst overall result since a 17-6 setback at Johns Hopkins on April 25, 2012.
Cornell used a 9-1 advantage in the third quarter to blow open what had been a 7-3 game at halftime. Jonathan Donville scored five goals for the Big Red, Cooper Telesco scored four and Jeff Teat had a goal and four assists.
The game was decided when the ball was on the ground. Cornell finished with a 49-32 advantage in ground balls, including a 32-14 edge over the middle two quarters. Cornell also won 18 of 22 faceoffs in the first three quarters, and ended the game controlling 21 of 32 draws.
“I thought we competed about half the game, maybe,” UAlbany coach Scott Marr said. “I thought they out-competed us for ground balls. When you’re not winning faceoffs, you’ve got to get some ground balls, and the 50/50 ground balls, they came up with.”
A year ago, Cornell won just 38.4% of its faceoffs. Saturday, the Big Red’s trio of Paul Rasimowicz, Tim Graham and Angelo Petrakis thoroughly dominated a UAlbany team that tried six different players on faceoffs.
At times, UAlbany simply conceded the faceoff advantage, lining up longstick midfielders Jake Piseno and Pat Barrow instead of specialists Danny Mastropaolo, Austin Jones or Anthony Altimari.
“The possessions were heavily in their favor,” Marr said. “We just struggled to stop them.”
“It makes a difference in the game,” Cornell coach Peter Milliman said.
UAlbany’s struggles to gain possession were compounded by a failure to gain any rhythm on the offensive end early on. The Great Danes were limited to just three goals in the game’s first 41 minutes, with the starting attack of Jakob Patterson, Tehoka Nanticoke and Graydon Hogg limited to just one goal and one assist during that sluggish start.
Corey Yunker finished with three goals and an assist to lead the UAlbany offense. Patterson, seeing his first game action in his return from an offseason knee injury, had two goals and an assist. Hogg chipped in two goals and two assists, and Nanticoke was limited to a pair of assists.
“They were a great defense, but we obviously didn’t play to our potential,” Patterson said.
“When you struggle to score, it always leads to guys making poor decisions and trying to do too much,” Marr said.
Meanwhile, Cornell overcame 10 first-half saves by Siekierski to forge a four-goal halftime lead, then blew the game wide-open in the third quarter. After Hogg’s goal got UAlbany within 6-3 with 3:38 left in the second quarter, Cornell reeled off eight straight goals over the next 12:42 to put the game out of reach.
“I think we just got too stagnant as a group and started pointing fingers,” Siekierski said. “We just needed to take a big, deep breath and settle down.”
Patterson’s confident the Great Danes will do just that, starting this coming Saturday when they host Drexel.
“We’re in the beginning stages,” he said. “We’re only going to go up from here.”
Cornell 3 4 9 3 — 19
UAlbany 1 2 1 6 — 10
Cornell scoring: Donville 5-0, Telesco 4-0, Piatelli 3-0, Lombardi 3-0, Teat 1-4, Fletcher 1-2, Coyle 1-0, Petrakis 1-0, Rasimowicz 0-1. UAlbany scoring: Yunker 3-1, Hogg 2-2, Patterson 2-1, Ramirez 1-0, Burgmaster 1-0, Barrow 1-0, Nanticoke 0-2, Diamond 0-1, Fingar 0-1.
Goalies: Cornell, Ierlan 10 saves. UAlbany, Siekierski 13 saves.
Reach Adam Shinder at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Shinder.