March 22, 2014

Albany Defense Steps Up in Big Win Over Penn State

by Joe Kearns | | Twitter

Goalie Blaze Riorden (19 saves) and the Albany defense came up big to help the Great Danes improve to 3-3 with a non-conference win over Penn State. (Rich Barnes)

In-Game Blog Replay


While No. 19 Albany is renowned for having the top scoring offense in the NCAA, its defense delivered an effective performance which helped the Great Danes defeat No. 14 Penn State on Saturday.

Albany defeated Penn State 17-10 in University Park, Pa., forcing the Lions to give up their highest total of goals of the season.

Albany sophomore goalkeeper Blaze Riorden recorded 19 saves. Riorden, the NCAA leader in saves per game, is no stranger to containing an active offense. In 2013, he recorded at least ten saves in 11 games.

Albany coach Scott Marr said the total of ten goals allowed was deceiving. He pointed out that four of the goals were allowed in the fourth quarter when his team always led by at least six goals.

“I think Blaze played probably one of the best games he’s played in his career,” Marr said. “19 saves. Coming up with huge saves man-down, with two men-down there at the end of the game. He made a couple of good saves there. When you have a goalkeeper that’s got confidence—he’s a good sized kid and he’s a very, very vocal—when he’s making saves, again, that’s a great feeling for us because you know when he does make a save, the ball’s going up and we get some opportunities at the other end.”

Albany held Penn State to just one goal in four extra-man opportunities. When freshman defenseman James Burdette was given a two-minute penalty for slashing with 9:16 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Lions attempted six shots. The Great Danes forced the Lions’ shooting to be erratic in that span, as only one shot landed close enough to the net for Riorden to make a save.

“We’ve really, really been working on our communication,” Marr said. “We’re a work in progress on that end, but I think we’re getting better each week.”

Albany entered the game with the 57th-ranked scoring defense, allowing an average of 12.20 goals per game.

The Great Danes’ offense, meanwhile, lived up to its heralded reputation as the top-scoring offense in the NCAA. It scored its second-highest total of goals during a game in the regular season.

Albany senior attackman Miles Thompson, the NCAA’s leader in goals per game, penetrated the Penn State defense to get his team on the board early. He scored the first goal of the game with 7:12 remaining in the first quarter. Thompson scored four goals in the game, giving him a season total of 26.

His brother, junior attackman Lyle Thompson, also put a dent in the Lions’ defensive plans by scoring three goals.

Their cousin, senior attackman Ty Thompson, was one of three Albany players to score two goals. Senior midfielder Ryan Feuerstein and freshman midfielder Eli Lasda accomplished the same feat.

“I just think if we get the ball, we’re pretty dangerous when we get it,” Marr said. “I thought we had a good, very efficient offense today. We didn’t turn the ball over too much when we did have it.”

Following a goal by Penn State sophomore attackman T.J. Sanders, Lyle Thompson scored a goal with 3:27 remaining in the first quarter and gave Albany a 2-1 lead. The Great Danes never looked back and never gave up the lead again.

Albany hopes to sustain this momentum on Tuesday when it plays Canisius in a home-game with a 3 p.m. faceoff.

Despite watching his team giving up a season-high total of goals, Penn State coach Jeff Tambroni said he was more concerned by his offense than his defense.

“All in all that’s not a bad day, you hold to Albany to 36 shots,” Tambroni said. “I think our game plan was sound, for the most part, in the defensive end. I think I’d probably change some things offensively. We went to an offense there later on in the game that probably was more conducive toward our personnel and getting a better shot selection. Maybe I would’ve done that earlier and maybe some of those adjustments would’ve helped our defense see the ball a little bit less, give up a little less transition, and maybe have more success than we had today.”

Penn State freshman attackman Dan Craig and junior attackman Pat Manley led the Lions with three goals apiece in the defeat.

The Lions’ scoring leader this season, senior attackman Shane Sturgis, was shut down during most of the game with no goals and one assist. Sturgis has 23 goals this season.

Penn State senior goalkeeper Austin Kaut made six saves and gave up seventeen goals.

Penn State’s next game will begin next Saturday at 2 p.m. against Villanova at University Park, Pa.

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