Friday, April 30, 2004


Vestal, N.Y. -- Michael Solazzo and Merrick Thomson each scored three goals and goalkeeper Kevin Rae made 12 saves to lead UAlbany to its second consecutive America East Conference men's lacrosse championship with a 10-4 victory over top-seeded Binghamton on Saturday afternoon at East Gym Complex. The Great Danes earned the league's automatic NCAA tournament berth.

Albany (10-5), the tournament's No. 3 seed, jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the opening quarter. Brendan Russell converted a crossing pass from Chris Martocchia with one minute and 15 seconds elapsed in the contest, before Frank Resetarits connected on a bounce shot. Luke Daquino netted the first of his two goals on an underhanded low shot from the left side with 56 seconds left in the period.

Binghamton (10-6), who won the conference's regular-season crown with an undefeated league record, scored back-to-back 20 seconds apart midway through the second quarter to cut the deficit to 3-2. Rob Williams netted a man-advantage goal, before Matt DeCirce fired in a shot after teammate Chris Bernard took control of a failed clearing attempt.

The Great Danes, who dropped a 9-8 decision on their home field to Binghamton in the regular-season finale one week ago, quieted that comeback nearly one minute later. Solazzo rifled a left-handed shot into the cage on an extra-man opportunity. Daquino gave his team a 5-2 halftime advantage when he sent a high shot inside the far post following a restart with 2:35 left.

Albany's defense took charge in the second and third periods, as the Bearcats were held scoreless for more than 33 minutes. Rae, the championship MVP for the second straight year, made three key stops en route to recording double-figure saves for the 11th time this season. His team's man-down unit wiped out 5-of-6 extra-man chances.

The Great Danes would eventually push out to an 8-2 lead with 8:34 remaining in the fourth quarter. Thomson, a freshman attackman, tallied his second goal of the afternoon after faking the goalkeeper from right of the crease. Solazzo, who also had two assists, then ripped a shot from the middle of the field inside the right post. The UAlbany senior midfielder added his 24th goal of the season with 3:29 to play, as he came around from behind the cage for a 10-3 advantage.

"Defense is what wins championships, and our man-down unit did a great job today," said Albany coach Scott Marr, whose team had to win on the road for the second straight year in making the NCAA Tournament field. "It's a credit to our kids that they stayed together and were positive. We had to come from two goals down in the fourth quarter in the semifinals and then to win here in the final makes it a well-deserved championship."

Resetarits finished with one goal and two assists and Martocchia had two assists for the Great Danes, who reached the final with a 9-8 overtime win against UMBC in the semifinals last Wednesday. Binghamton's Matt McNamara scored once and assisted on another, while goalkeeper Matt McKeown, the America East player of the year, had nine saves.

"I felt like this was my last opportunity; it might be the last game I may ever play," said Solazzo, who joined Rae, Daquino and defenseman Patrick McSweeney on the America East all-tournament team. "We are not like any other team. We rely on each other and we were definitely on the same page today. Our defense was excellent and Kevin (Rae) made some big saves, so we didn't feel like we had to make plays or rush on offense."
America East Conference Men's Lacrosse Championship

#3 Albany (10-5) 3 2 1 4 - 10
#1 Binghamton (10-6) 0 2 0 2 - 4

Albany -- Scoring: Michael Solazzo 3-2, Merrick Thomson 3-0, Luke Daquino 2-0, Frank Resetarits 1-2, Brendan Russell 1-1, Chris Martocchia 0-2, Eric Wolf 0-1; Goalkeeper(s): Kevin Rae (58:56, 12 saves, 3 GA), Chris Gill (1:04, 0 saves, 1 GA).

Binghamton -- Scoring: Matt McNamara 1-1, David Burpoe 1-1, Matt DeCirce 1-0, Rob Williams 1-0, Chris Bernard 0-1; Goalkeeper(s): Kevin McKeown (60:00, 9 saves, 10 GA).

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