Tuesday, May 15, 2007

UAlbany Upends Loyola, 19-10, in First Round of NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship

Albany, N.Y. – Merrick Thomson scored five goals and added one assist in leading UAlbany to a 19-10 victory over Loyola in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship before a record-crowd of 2,953 on Sunday, May 13 at John Fallon Field. The Great Danes posted their first NCAA win in the program’s history and advanced to face Cornell in the quarterfinals on Saturday, May 19 at Princeton Stadium.

UAlbany (15-2) leaped to a 3-0 lead in the opening four minutes of play. Derek Dale finished off a crossing pass from Jordan Levine following a Loyola miscue. Mike Ammann, a junior midfielder, then scored back-to-back goals. He drove from the left and placed a hard shot inside the far post, before advancing from the right side where he went one-on-one with goalkeeper Alex Peaty.

The Great Danes, who were hosting a NCAA Tournament game for the first time as the championship’s No. 5 seed, moved out to an 8-2 lead with 4:32 left in the second period. Matthew Green scored unassisted when drove in from the left point and ripped a shot into the top right corner to fuel a three-goal run. Goalkeeper Brett Queener, who made eight saves, stopped two shots that led to a pair of fastbreak opportunities. Dale cleaned up on a left-to-right crossing pass from Thomson, before Levine went all the way from the midfield line and switched to his left hand for a six-goal margin.

UAlbany increased its advantage in the third quarter to 13-4 with another three-goal outburst. Thomson, a senior attacker, started that stretch by scoring in transition after a turnover. Levine, who tied a career-best with five points, then split two defenders en route to the cage. Thomson, who had five-plus points for the 25th time in his career, used a two-man advantage situation to find the net from right of the crease.

Loyola (7-6) ended the third stanza by ripping off three unanswered in a 46-second span. Greg Leonard scored an extra-man goal before his team won the following face-off. Shane Koppens, who had a pair of goals, finished off that possession to slice the deficit to 13-7. But the Great Danes put the game away in the final quarter by netting six of the game’s next seven goals. Thomson scored twice in that stretch, and Frank Resetarits and Eric Wolf combined on two other scoring plays.

“We were very prepared,” said UAlbany coach Scott Marr, whose program had lost their previous three NCAA opening-round games. “We’ve been waiting a long time for this after missing the playoffs last year. We go into every game anticipating Frank (Resetarits) and Merrick (Thomson) will be shut off, or some special defense will be on them. That’s what happened today. When Frank and Merrick don’t get their looks, it just opens things up for everyone else.”

UAlbany showed its balance with eleven players reaching the scoring column. Resetarits, a Tewaaraton Trophy finalist, finished with two goals and two assists, while Corey Small and Wolf each scored twice and had an assist. Paul Richards and Andrew Spack had two goals apiece for the Greyhounds, who made the NCAA field for the first time since 2001.

“I really felt like we had to match their energy,” explained Loyola coach Charlie Toomey, whose team finished second in the ECAC standings behind Georgetown. “They didn’t let us back in, they stayed on top of us today. They had an answer for everything. Albany got some good looks at the goal; they proved they can score with their weak hands.”

Loyola (7-6) 1 2 4 3 - 10

UAlbany (15-2) 5 5 3 6 - 19

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