Yale Athletics

Two of the biggest names in NCAA lacrosse will face off on Sunday as the No. 6 Yale men’s team hosts No. 2 Albany at Reese Stadium. The top-10 showdown that marks the penultimate game of both teams’ regular seasons.

The Bulldogs (10–2, 5–0 Ivy) will go toe-to-toe with Albany (10–1, 3–1 America East), looking to avenge the 13–12 defeat the Great Danes inflicted on the Bulldogs last April — despite three-goal games from midfielders Joe Sessa ’19 and Jason Alessi ’18 — that snapped the Elis’ seven-game win streak. Yale looks to avenge its 2017 loss and extend its current winning streak to four before facing Harvard in its final game of the season next week.

“Albany is a great team, but we don’t like to over cook any one game,” midfielder Conor Mackie ’18 said. “We will focus on getting better ourselves this week and trust that the coaches will put us in the best place to succeed on Sunday. At the X, we are going to focus on our fundamentals and trust that as a group we will compete at our best one draw at a time. If we do that, we will be successful.”

One of the top lacrosse programs in the country, Albany has taken down four foes ranked inside the top 20 during its 2018 campaign — No. 9 Syracuse, No. 6 Cornell, No. 18 Massachusetts and No. 1 Maryland. While the Elis enter the contest carrying momentum from sizable wins over Brown and Marist, the Great Danes recently had their first taste of defeat this season in an 11–7 loss to conference opponent University of Maryland Baltimore County. That loss two weeks ago marked the only blemish on the team’s 10–1 record.

The team’s offensive fulcrum and leading scorer, attacker Connor Fields, missed Albany loss to UMBC with an MCL injury. The East Amherst, New York native ranks second nationally in points per game and sits fourth in assists, notching 3.56 per game on average. In Field’s absence, attacker Tahoka Nanticoke, who leads Albany in goals scored with 32, and midfielder Kyle McClancy, who has notched 29 points this season, have stepped up to spearhead the Great Dane offense.

Yale’s blazing-hot offense, anchored by captain and attacker Ben Reeves ’18, who boasts 67 points this season and ranks fifth in goals scored per game with 2.92, will need to follow the game plan that helped them post 27 goals against Brown goalie Phil Goss last weekend. Although the offense revolves around the senior star, the Bulldogs have benefitted from scoring depth as well. Eighteen different Elis have scored a goal on the season, and seven, including Reeves, have notched in the double-digits.

“The depth on offense is crucial for us, especially as the weather starts to heat up we’re going to need more people to play,” attacker Jackson Morrill ’20 said. “We just have to continue to share the ball as much as we have in the past few games. That’s when our offense is at its best.”

Additionally, Mackie, who ranks ninth in the country in face-off win percentage, will have his work cut out for him in the face-off X. Albany’s sophomore standout, TD Lerlan, is the number one face-off player in the country — with a win percentage of .844 — and recently had a perfect game, going 24-24 in the X in Albany’s 13–7 victory over Stony Brook.

Albany’s other national standout is goalie JD Colarusso. The senior netminder ranks first nationally in goals against average with 6.67 and save percentage with a .618 mark. However, thanks to steady scoring from attackers Jack Tigh ’19 and Morrill, as well as a standout game from attacker Brendan Rooney ’19 in Tuesday’s win over Marist, the Elis now boast a top-five scoring offense, notching an average of 13.58 goals per game.

“I was psyched for [Brendan],” head coach Andy Shay said of Rooney’s career-high six points on Tuesday. “He’s a great kid, he works really hard. He’s been patient, and with Matt [Gaudet ’20] not in the lineup, Rooney has stepped up.”

The battle against the Great Danes will commence at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Jane Miller | jane.s.miller@yale.edu

Cristofer Zillo | christopher.zillo@yale.edu