Saturday, April 11, 2009

UAlbany, UMBC meet with first place on line

When the University of Albany men's lacrosse team gathered for fall workouts, head coach Scott Marr gave a DVD to each returning senior.

It was required, if depressing, viewing: the 14-13 loss at Maryland-Baltimore County in the America East championship game last May. The Great Danes blew an 11-2 lead and missed the NCAA Tournament.

"Every day since fall ball, coach has been telling us, 'UMBC, remember UMBC,' " said sophomore defenseman Mike Banks, who eventually got a copy. "We just fell apart and we'll never forget that game."

UAlbany (6-3) gets another shot against the seventh-ranked Retrievers (8-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday on John Fallon Field with the America East regular-season title likely at stake. While Marr said there's been less emphasis this week on last year's defeat, it's never far from his mind. "It definitely still burns you, there's no question," Marr said.

This is the final regular-season home game for the Great Danes, who almost certainly have to win if they're to play on Fallon Field again this season.

UMBC and UAlbany are tied for first in the America East at 2-0, and the regular-season champion will host the league tournament from April 29-May 2. "It's a huge game, there's no doubt," Marr said. "Just for our confidence and for us going forward into the America East playoffs, to let them know we're not going away."

UAlbany could get a boost with the return of all-conference attack Corey Small, who has missed the past four games with a leg injury that developed an infection after surgery.

"It's looking good," said Marr. "It's a gametime decision. The doctors are going to be here in the morning." Yet the Great Danes are still decimated by injuries in the midfield. Mark Cometti (broken leg), Ryan Ivory (headaches), Kyle Crotty (broken thumb) and Derek Kreuzer (broken thumb) will all miss Saturday's game. Kreuzer had surgery on Friday after hurting his thumb in Wednesday's practice.

"You lose four guys of that caliber, now we're really stretching into our freshmen and sophomores," Marr said. "You don't want to cry about it."

UMBC is led by Ohio State transfer Peet Poillon, who has 17 goals, and All-America goalkeeper Jeremy Blevins. UMBC has a 6-3 lead in the series with UAlbany, but the Great Danes have won the past two times they've played in Albany.

UAlbany freshman attack Joe Resetarits, who leads the team with 21 goals, will taste the rivalry for the first time. "How everyone's ready for this game is pretty exciting," he said.

What: America East men's lacrosse
Who: UAlbany (6-3 overall, 2-0 America East) vs. UMBC (8-2, 2-0)
When/where: 1 p.m. Saturday, John Fallon Field, UAlbany


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