October 13, 2013

Albany, Thompsons Solid at Christian Prince Tournament

by James Badas | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

The Thompson's - Lyle (pictured), Miles and Ty - combined for six of the first seven goals against Quinnipiac to help Albany on a strong day in New Haven.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com 

New Haven, Ct. - Albany picked up in the fall 2013 much in the fashion they had left off in the spring, with the Thompson's anchoring a high-scoring squad that took wins over both Quinnipiac and '13 NCAA tournament squad Yale at the Christian Prince Memorial Tournament in New Haven on Sunday.

Lyle, Miles and Ty Thompson combined for six of the Great Danes' first seven goals against Quinnipiac, making way for teammates after that for an 18-10 win, followed by a 17-11 win over the host Bulldogs.

Albany looked sharp and aggressive in scoring 35 goals after scoring 15.94 goals per game in 2013 – a total that was the most in Division I lacrosse since Virginia's 18.21 in 1997.

Head coach Scott Marr was clear with the Thompson's that they should be prepared at all times for opponents to be doing their all to slow them down.

"They have to understand that people are going to come after them a little more and disrupt their patterns," Marr said. "For them, it's a matter of staying within themselves and playing to their ability. If they do that and stay within the team concept, they make us go."

A pleasant surprise for the Great Danes was the play of freshman Connor Russell, who more than held his own against Yale's Dylan Levings in face-offs. The thought of Albany scoring at an even higher rate may be hard to believe, but with a few extra face-off victories this year, it is not out of the question by any means.

For Yale, coming off a postseason run that ended in heartbreaking fashion in the NCAA Quarterfinals against eventual runner-up Syracuse, moments of youthful flaws as well as veteran know-how balanced the showing, as they topped northern neighbor Quinnipiac 10-6 at Reese Stadium before falling to the Danes.

In two games that saw a less-than-stellar offensive attack for the Bulldogs, senior faceoff specialist Levings proved why he may just be the best at what he does in the entire country. Levings lost only two face-offs in the opener, but was not as technically sound as head coach Andy Shay would have liked.

"Dylan's a luxury at the faceoff X," Shay said. "When he adheres to his fundamentals, which I think he'd admit he didn't do much today, he's pretty tough to beat."

The offense was not at full strength though as Yale's top returning scorer, senior attackman Brandon Mangan, was unable to play. Mangan underwent surgery a little over a week for a leg injury he suffered last year. He is expected to return in the spring to provide a much-needed boost.

Two freshmen did show great promise for the Bulldogs: midfielder Eric Scott and attackman Jeff Cimbalista. The Bulldogs will have to incorporate some production from their underclassmen and these two look to be off to a good start.

Defensively, the Bulldogs struggled a bit in both outings, as they are being tasked with replacing two graduated stalwarts, Michael McCormack and Peter Johnson. McCormack specialized in being able to scoop up ground balls and Johnson was a spectacular lockdown defender. Senior Jack Ambrose and senior captain Jimmy Craft stood out as potential players to fill those holes for Yale.

Shay acknowledges that the team is going to be a scrappy one, and that a lot of the team's success will come down to their motor. Though they are still the projected favorites in the conference, which would make it a three-peat for the Bulldogs in the Ivy League, Yale will have to stay on guard.

"Every game in our league is going to be a one-goal game," Shay said. "We got to be ready for that, and if we're not ready, we're going to be last in our league, not first."

Quinnipiac, though the team suffered two losses, did not leave the tournament short of positives. The Bobcats lost a lot of offensive punch from last season and the tournament provided a perfect opportunity for head coach Eric Fekete to see who could step up this season, as the team prepares to transition from the NEC to the MAAC.

"My junior class is starting to come of age and turn the corner," Fekete said. "And Ryan Keenan and Dillon Webster, a couple of our attackmen, had a great day."

Quinnipiac did suffer a potentially crucial injury, as senior captain and attackman Brandon Kuring came out of the Yale matchup with a hamstring injury. Fekete said that he is day-to-day and that he will be evaluated further later this week.

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