By Tom Castro
The University at Albany men’s lacrosse team would not be denied victory in their second home contest of the season, as they hosted Drexel University in a high-scoring offensive shootout at Casey Stadium.
In a wild, back and forth game, that featured 11 lead changes and neither team leading by more than two goals at any time, the Great Danes came out on top with a 14-13 victory in the final seconds.
UAlbany thought that they had a game-winning goal from Corey Yunker with under a minute remaining in the fourth quarter, but, a costly timeout from the coaching staff negated the score and kept the game tied.
The Great Danes came out firing once again. After a shot by Kyle Casey hit the post, UAlbany got a fresh shot clock, allowing for Tehoka Nanticoke to set up senior midfielder, Ron John, for his second goal of the game to win it with 10.5 seconds remaining.
John, who finished with two goals and two assists, had missed two preseason scrimmages and did not play in the season opening loss to Cornell. He found out on Friday that he was cleared to play and suited up on Saturday to rejoin the top midfield line of Jakob Patterson and Kyle Casey.
“Today was just a product of working hard all week and playing as a team. For me to be in the spot to finish the ball the last time, it meant a lot. It was amazing,” said John, after an impressive return to the field.
While it is still early in the season, this is a big victory for the Great Danes, after being blown out in their season opener just a week ago.
Offensively, UAlbany came out firing right away, as the first goal of the game came just 26 seconds in, when Corey Yunker found the back of the net following a feed from Nanticoke. Even with his late goal called back, Yunker finished with a hat trick and three assists, while Nanticoke lead UAlbany in scoring with four goals and two assists of his own.
UAlbany was outmatched on ground balls, 50-38 in favor of Drexel, but made up for it with a strong effort in the face-off circle. Anthony Altimari won 16 face-offs, and as a team the Great Danes took 17 out of 32. They also had two more shots on goal than the Dragons, outshooting them 25-23.
The Great Danes entered the fourth quarter with a one goal lead that would not stick for long.
Amidst a series of lead changes, Drexel took the lead back with under 8:00 remaining on the fifth goal of the game by Ryan Genord but, UAlbany answered with their prettiest goal of the afternoon.
With 2:31 left, Patterson found Casey cutting to the net for a behind the back shot to beat the Drexel goalkeeper and tie the game at 13. Casey had a hat trick to go along with an assist for UAlbany.
“I’ve taken a couple shots behind my back in practice, so I know I’m capable of doing it,” Casey said. “Just the time of the game, I caught it and I just shot it. I wasn’t going in there trying to do that. I just did it and it worked out.”
Following the tie, Drexel (0-2) won the face-off but, turned the ball over which allowed UAlbany a chance to go on the offensive in the final moments and set up John’s late game heroics.
Through two games, the Great Danes have shown the ability to bounce back and find a way to win in a game that came down to the wire.
UAlbany will look to build on this victory, as they wrap up a three-game homestand next Saturday when they host Harvard.