Albany Quick Facts
Albany All-Time Record Vs. SU: 1-13
Albany Streak Vs. SU: L3
Albany Last Win Vs. SU: February 17, 2013
Albany 2015 Record: 16-3; America East Champions; Lost in NCAAT Quarterfinals
Albany 2016 Record: 12-3; Lost in America East Semifinals; Wins versus Drexel, Cornell, UMass, Stony Brook, Hartford, Harvard, UMass Lowell, Vermont, Binghamton, Yale, Siena, UMBC; Losses versus Syracuse, Maryland, Hartford
2016 AmEast Preseason Coaches' Poll: #1 out of seven
2016 AmEast Preseason All-Conference Players: Connor Fields (A), John Maloney (M), Stone Sims (D), Blaze Riorden (G)
2016 AmEast Awards: Blaze Riorden - Defensive POY; Scott Marr - Coach of the Year;
2016 AmEast All-Conference: First Team: Connor Fields (A), Seth Oakes (A), Stone Sims (D), Troy Reh (LSM), Blaze Riorden (G); Second Team: John Maloney (M); All-Rookie Team: Jack Burgmaster, Erik Dluhy, Zach Ornstein
The Albany Great Danes will take a trip down I-90 to the Carrier Dome to faceoff with the Syracuse Orange in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. In its first game of the season, Albany fell to SU 7-16. The Great Danes went on to put together a 12-3 record including a 14-13 OT win at Yale.
As the regular season came to a close, it appeared Albany would be ripe for a seeded position in the NCAAT, that was until the Danes fell to Hartford in overtime of the America East Tournament Semifinals. At the end of the day, Albany is capable of putting up a big offensive performance and with a Blaze Riorden in net, it creates a dangerous combination. I have Syracuse winning this game by three goals but an Albany victory is definitely not out of the question.
With Lyle Thompson now out of college, sophomore Connor Fields has taken the reigns of the attack. Fields has the fourth most points per game in the nation at 4.73. Redshirt Junior Seth Oakes plays along side Fields to create a fierce offensive duo. The former OCC player averages nearly a hat trick per game, and puts away the eighth most goals per game in the nation. The third starter at attack is Justin Reh. The sophomore has 40 points on the season including 22 goals and 18 assists.
Albany has the sixth best scoring offense in the country, averaging over 13 goals per game. It is an incredibly potent offense that is scoring on 50% of extra-man opportunities. That being said, the Albany attack put up only three goals against SU in its previous matchup and the Great Danes went just 1-4 in extra-man opportunities.
The Syracuse defense will certainly have its hands full against Albany. We must remember, however, that this defense has completely reinvented itself behind goalie Evan Molloy. Molloy has been much better than Warren Hill at seeing and reacting to the ball, but much more importantly he is a fantastic communicator which has helped significantly improve this defense.
John Maloney has a great outside shot and may be Albany's best midfield option on offense. The Victor, NY native has a fantastic .702 shots on goal percentage with 18 goals and 17 assists. Adam Osika is a big physical presence, standing at 6'3". He is an incredible athlete and has nine goals on the year. Kyle McClancy is a great dodger. The sophomore had 24 points last season but has compiled just four goals and 10 assists this year. He does have 26 groundballs and six caused turnovers on the season.
I have a hard time imagining that the Albany defensive midfield will be able to slow down the Syracuse midfield. I would expect Troy Reh, the twin of fellow Great Dane Justin Reh, to be the fourth pole on the field and either take on Nick Mariano or Sergio Salcido. Troy leads the team with 17 caused turnovers this year and has 44 groundballs to boot. The Syracuse midfield really hadn't hit its stride by the Albany game earlier in the year. In the last five games of the year, Salcido has had 20 points. Meanwhile Mariano had three goals in the Albany game. The UMass transfer has scored three or more goals six times this year. Then there is Derek DeJoe who put up a hat trick against Albany. The starting SU midfielders put up 11 points versus the Great Danes and I would expect a similar performance Sunday.
Zach Ornstein has a .565 winning percentage this year, leaving him 23rd in college lacrosse. The freshman made the America East all-freshman team for his 178 faceoff wins and 86 groundballs. That being said, he pulled in just seven of 25 against Syracuse. Against Albany, Ben Williams went 17-24 while Cal Paduda had three of three faceoff wins. It was a completely dominant game at the faceoff X for Syracuse that led to a significant advantage in possessions.
Albany is not known for its defensive units, however this year the defense has been a nice surprise. Returning starter Josh Babcock has been known as a shut down defender.
Stone Sims has 15 caused turnovers on the year. James Burdette has 10 caused turnovers and 17 groundballs on the year. He is traditionally a close defenseman, but has been playing at long-stick midfield this year.
The Albany defense allowed 18 shots but just four goals from the Syracuse starting attack in February and the close defense caused nine Syracuse turnovers. More interestingly, Albany allowed 21 shots in the first quarter while only putting up three of its own. The defense is going to have to do a much better job creating turnovers and pressuring the offense in the early minutes of Sunday's game.
Albany's best player stands in the crease. Blaze Riorden is a Tewaaraton Nominee, one of, if not the, best goalies in the country, and has put together another unbelievable season. Against Syracuse Riorden nabbed 17 saves while allowing 16 goals. On the year, he has a .572 save percentage and a 9.59 goals against average. Nationally, the senior is third in saves per game and seventh in save percentage. If Riorden gets hot, SU could be in some trouble.
Syracuse hosts Albany on Sunday at the Carrier Dome in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The game can be seen on ESPNU and of course you can follow me @OrangeLax for updates.