ALBANY — For everything that went wrong in the UAlbany men’s lacrosse team’s season-opening 19-10 loss Saturday to Cornell, among the bright spots was senior Jakob Patterson’s return to the field from injury.
Patterson, the 2019 America East Offensive Player of the Year, had been making his way back from a meniscus injury suffered during UAlbany’s fall-ball season. He was held out of the Great Danes’ preseason scrimmages against Siena and St. John’s while recuperating, but trotted out onto the field at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium on Saturday to start at attack alongside Tehoka Nanticoke and Graydon Hogg.
Patterson’s assessment after notching two goals and an assist against Cornell?
“I felt great,” Patterson said. “Just getting back to the basics, and [we’re] moving onto next week and getting better during practice.”
Patterson started at attack and was a part of UAlbany’s best offensive sequence of the first half when Nanticoke bullied his way toward the cage, drew two defenders and dumped a pass off to Patterson, who quickly found a cutting Hogg on the crease to set up the freshman’s first career goal.
In the second half, Patterson’s role changed as he was brought out of the substitution box as a midfielder while Corey Yunker moved to attack, where the sophomore played alongside Nanticoke and Hogg during UAlbany’s two scrimmages.
“Our two scrimmages, [Jakob] didn’t play. We had the attack of Corey, [Hogg] and Tehoka playing really well together,” UAlbany head coach Scott Marr said. “We’re trying to get that chemistry back and [figure out] where we can fit Jakob in at the best position. Right now, the best position, we think for him, is to play out of the box.”
Patterson scored both of his goals while playing as a midfielder in the second half. After drawing double-teams when he got the ball at attack in the first half, the senior from Chandler, Arizona had a little more room to operate in the midfield, where he often drew short-stick defenders.
“Jakob’s very effective coming out of the box,” Marr said. “His sophomore year, that’s what he did.”
Yunker scored two of his team-high three goals and added an assist after being moved from midfield to attack in the second half.
Also seeing their first game action Saturday following an injury was junior midfielder Alex Burgmaster, who had his 2019 season cut short by a fractured leg and ankle.
Burgmaster provided a goal in highlight-reel fashion, taking a behind-the-back pass from Nanticoke before unleashing a behind-the-back shot to beat Cornell goalie Chayse Ierlan late in the fourth quarter.
As lopsided as the game ended up, Marr’s biggest message after the game was that if the Great Danes could have cashed in on some early opportunities, things could have been much different.
UAlbany drew three Cornell penalties in the game’s first six minutes and had an early chance with a two-man advantage, but the Great Danes came up scoreless and Cornell eventually used a 49-32 advantage in ground balls and a dominating 21 of 32 face-off performance to fuel its win.
“We had opportunities early in the game,” Marr said. “I thought if we could’ve scored in the first quarter on a couple of the man-ups we had, a couple of the early possessions, maybe it would’ve turned the tide a little bit.”
Prior to the game, UAlbany recognized Cornell senior attackman Ryan Maloney with an on-field ceremony and a message from Marr on the Casey Stadium video board.
Maloney, the brother of UAlbany assistant coach John Maloney and cousin of Great Danes defender Tanner Hay, suffered a serious spinal cord injury while on vacation in New Jersey last July.
“We really appreciate the thoughtfulness and the message, the concern for the families,” Cornell coach Peter Milliman said. “It was a first-class thing to do.”
Reach Adam Shinder at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Shinder.