March 12, 2011

They're Back: Albany Tops No. 13 Ohio State, Second Top 20 Victim of Week

by J. Jude Hazard | | Game Blog Replay

ALBANY, N.Y. – The Great Danes are back.

Four days after defeating the highest ranked team in the program’s history, Albany dominated faceoffs and controlled the possession to hand No. 13 Ohio State its second loss of the season, defeating the Buckeyes 11-9 on Saturday afternoon at John Fallon Field.

The Danes (3-1) defeated Delaware, No. 5 Massachusetts and the Buckeyes since their season-opening loss to No. 20 Drexel. The wins against UMass and Ohio State are the first time Albany has defeated two ranked teams in back to back games since May 2007.

“We set a goal when we got home from Drexel to be 3-1 at the end of this stretch,” Albany coach Scott Marr said. “It’s not often that we get three home games in a row here in Albany in March. We really wanted to take advantage of it.”

Albany got goals from seven different players, including two goals and two assists from junior midfielder Rocky Bonitatibus.

“We knew once we beat UMass we could hang with anybody,” Bonitatibus said. “It doesn’t matter what they’re ranked, it doesn’t matter what we’re ranked. We’re just a tough team and everyone’s got a problem playing against us.”

The opening goal of Saturday’s game came on a short range blast from Albany freshman attack Ty Thompson, assisted by his cousin, freshman attack Miles Thompson.

“This is our fourth game and that’s the second time that they’ve gotten the first goal of the game from one to the other,” Marr said. “They just kind of have that knack to know where each other are.”

Rocky Bonitatibus scored two goals and added two assists as Albany beat its second straight Top 20 foe.

© Greg Wall

Ohio State’s largest lead of the game came midway through the second quarter on a Jeff Tundo unassisted goal that put the Buckeyes up 5-3. The Great Danes responded with five unanswered goals by five different players to go up 8-5.

Albany controlled 15 of 24 faceoffs and grabbed 42 ground balls to Ohio State’s 29. Ohio State (5-2) managed just three shots in the third quarter as Albany dominated the possession throughout the first three frames.

“It’s hard to score when you don’t have the ball,” Ohio State sophomore attack Logan Schuss said. “Faceoffs are one of the most crucial parts of the game.”

Schuss scored two goals in the final three minutes of the game to cut the Albany lead to 11-9. Midfielder Dominique Alexander had one goal and three assists in the loss.

“We came out slow on the day and really didn’t execute,” Schuss said. “Next time we’ve got to come out stronger.”

Albany doesn’t have much time to enjoy its victory. The Danes head to Syracuse on Tuesday to play the top-ranked Orange. Although they’ve come close, including an overtime thriller in 2006, Albany has never beaten Syracuse. Marr said a win is attainable if the Danes play their best game.

“We’ve got to play as good as we can play,” he said. “I think they’re playing at another level to be honest with you. I’m sure surprised they went to overtime with Georgetown today.”

Albany midfielder Brian Caufield, who missed the second half of last season with a broken jaw, left the game Saturday after the second quarter with what Marr described as a bruised shoulder. Marr said Caufield’s status for Tuesday’s game against Syracuse is uncertain but he doesn't expect the senior to be sidelined for long.

Bonitatibus did not play in the fourth quarter due to an unspecified injury, although he did not appear visibly hurt after the game. His status for Tuesday’s game is also uncertain.

"Staying healthy is the key to any sport. You’ve got to have your best players on the field,” Marr said. “Hopefully we can get these guys back in the lineup.”

Marr said this Albany team reminds him of previous Great Danes championship teams he has coached. Albany won the America East championship from 2003-2005 and in 2007.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence, but we don’t want to get our heads too big because we want to keep this going,” Miles Thompson said.

The Danes will get their chance to keep it going in a big way on Tuesday at the Carrier Dome.

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