BALTIMORE – Tasked with taking on the #1 team in the nation on the road, the UAlbany men’s lacrosse team put its strong defensive performance of the year together to shut down 3-seed Loyola 13-6 to move on to the NCAA Quarterfinals.
UAlbany (12-5) allowed just six goals, to Loyola (15-2), its lowest goal-mark of the year after giving up seven goals in wins over Stony Brook and Binghamton. Blaze Riorden had 13 saves in the cage did not allow more than two goals in any quarter on Saturday.
“When you get to championship play, you need good defense,” said UAlbany head coach Scott Marr. “Blaze [Riorden] was outstanding today, and I am proud of our team for preparing this week and playing well.”
“Props to my defense, they forced shots that I could save,” added Riorden. “Everyone was on the same page today, we put together a full 60 minutes of offense and defense.”
The Great Danes win their second-ever DI NCAA Tournament game, defeating Loyola 19-10 in Albany in 2007. They will advance to take on the winner of Harvard-Notre Dame in Hempstead, New York on Saturday, May 17.
On the offensive end, the Thompson brothers, each Tewaaraton finalists, continued to set records. Lyle Thompson now stands with the DI single season record in points with 122, earning three goals and five assists. Miles Thompson is second on that list with 115 after scoring five goals and two assists. Ty Thompson earned three goals, giving the Thompson trio 18 points in the game.
“I was waiting for them to slide, and they did not,” said Lyle Thompson, who dueled with fellow Tewaaraton finalist Joe Fletcher all day. “Fletcher did a great job setting position, and I kept waiting for a mistake, and it did not come, so I had to make my own shot.”
“Last year, we were happy to be in the tournament, but this year we feel we are capable of winning it,” said Miles Thompson. “This was our best game of the year because of our defense.”
For Loyola, Justin Ward and Pat Laconi each had a pair of goals. Jack Runkel had 11 saves in 54:58 of play in the defeat.
After Artie Marrapese won the first faceoff, Lyle Thompson got around Fletcher and scored in the corner to put UAlbany in the lead. That goal gave Lyle Thompson his 115th point, setting a new DI single season record. As Riorden held in the cage with saves to hold on defense, the other way, Miles Thompson beat his defender and scored with 8:31 left in the 1st for a 2-0 UAlbany lead. After some back-and-forth play, Laconi scored for Loyola to put the home team on the board. 45 seconds later, Matthew Bertrams caused a turnover, cleared, passed to Jon Newhouse. Newhouse scored his first goal of the year in transition to put UAlbany up 3-1 with 2:04 left in the 1st, the eventual final period score.
UAlbany defended to start the second, with a Loyola post shot and a Matt Garziano caused turnover stopping two Greyhound possessions. After the turnover, Lyle Thompson pulled two defenders to free Miles Thompson, who pocketed the goal point-blank to put UAlbany up by three. Following another Riorden save, UAlbany went quickly and scored again via Lyle Thompson to Miles Thompson with 6:51 left in the 2nd. Following the media timeout, Loyola won the faceoff and scored quickly with Romar Dennis getting the goal, followed by a Nikko Pontrello goal 13 seconds later for Loyola. Marrapese won the next faceoff to stop the Loyola burst. Miles Thompson scored with 2:30 to go in the half, then following a UAlbany caused turnovers, Lyle Thompson with 7.5 seconds left and a defender next to him shoveled a pass into the net, putting the Great Danes into the locker room up 7-3.
The Great Danes held off a man-up opportunity in the half’s opening minutes, and a Riorden save stopped the Loyola possession. UAlbany clears and missed on a man-up possession of its own, but at full strength, Miles Thompson passed to Ty Thompson wide open next to the crease. Ty Thompson scored to put UAlbany up 8-3., followed by a Will Stenberg goal from Miles Thompson to make it 9-3. UAlbany’s defense held until 4:02 left in the third quarter, when Laconi scored in transition for Loyola.
Following that goal and a UAlbany faceoff win, a lightning delay stopped the game for 30 minutes with 3:16 in the third.
After the delay, Justin Ward wrapped around the cage and scored with 2.9 seconds left for Loyola. UAlbany took a 9-5 lead into the fourth quarter.
Loyola won the first faceoff in the fourth, but the UAlbany defense held twice with caused turnovers. On offense, Lyle Thompson pulled two defenders again, freeing up Ty Thompson in front of the cage for the score, putting UAlbany up 10-5. UAlbany starting killing the clock with a combination on Riorden saves and holding the ball on offense. Lyle Thompson and Miles Thompson added goals to increase the lead to 12-5 with 4:18 left. Ward scored to stop the 3-0 UAlbany run with 3:50 left to play. The UAlbany defense held the rest of the way, with Ty Thompson scoring another goal to seal the 13-6 victory.