You’ll need web access to see it, but Saturday night’s men’s lacrosse clash between Albany and Yale (7 p.m. ET, ESPN3) should be worth clicking for several reasons.
For starters, it’s a top-15 meeting of two strong NCAA tournament candidates. Both teams have already locked up hosting privileges for their respective conference tournaments. In addition, the contest is headlined by a pair of high-scoring attackmen who are likely to be named as finalists for the Tewaaraton Award. The game isn’t a must-win for either team, but it certainly qualifies as a would-like-to-win. The Great Danes (10-2) check in at No. 5 in both major polls. The lone blemishes on their record are one-goal losses to top-ranked Syracuse and No. 2 Maryland. Yale (8-3) is riding a seven-game winning streak and has moved up to 11th in media balloting and 12th in the coaches poll.
“We’re well aware that it’s an RPI booster,” says Yale coach Andy Shay. “We’ve had Albany scheduled on our Ivy bye week the last few years now. It’s become a nice rivalry. I’d like to think they have similar respect for this game.”
No worries there. “It’s definitely a huge game for us,” says Great Danes’ coach Scott Marr. “We’d certainly both like to build our resumes a bit. Yale is playing as well as anybody in the country right now.”
The Bulldogs have had a few extra days to prepare since their last outing, an 18-12 triumph against Brown that clinched at least a share of the Ivy League regular-season title. They’ll go for a clean sweep next week against Harvard. Albany, meanwhile, took care of business on the road Wednesday night at Binghamton. The 10-4 victory guaranteed the Great Danes would host the American East tournament, and they’ too, will go for a perfect league mark in a week against Hartford. There are similarities on the field as well. “It’s almost like looking in a mirror,” says Marr of studying Yale on film. “We both like to move the ball around, we both have solid face-off guys and like to push the pace.”
Then, there are the talented juniors quarterbacking the respective offenses. The Great Danes are led by Connor Fields, who leads the nation averaging 6.83 points per game with 42 goals and 40 assists. Fields was a key contributor as a freshman when the great Lyle Thompson was leading the Albany attack.
“He’s grown into that role,” Marr says. “You could say he’s been an understudy with Lyle, and going into this year we knew he’d be the guy that sort of controls things. He’s very unselfish with the ball and we have a lot of guys contributing.”
Yale’s offensive leader is Ben Reeves, a Tewaaraton finalist a year ago. He moved up to second in scoring average at 5.6 points a game after his career-high 10-point outing…