ALBANY, N.Y. -- With Lyle Thompson tallying nine points, breaking the 100-point mark for the third year in a row, and the defense holding its opponent to two second half goals, No. 7 Albany defeated Hartford 15-6 on Thursday to advance to its fourth consecutive America East title game.
With the score tied 4-4 with 12:20 remaining in the second quarter, Albany (14-2) held No. 4 seed Hartford (7-8) to two goals the rest of the way, using runs of 4-0 and 5-0 to seal the victory.
“This is probably the hardest game to play as the 1 seed,” said Albany coach Scott Marr, who takes Albany to its 12th America East title appearance in 14 years. “I thought we came out tight, but give credit to Hartford, they played outstanding. Our defense played well, and we fought through it.”
This sets up a SUNY-rematch for the America East title game on May 2 at 10 a.m. ET at Bob Ford Field as Albany will play Stony Brook, which defeated No. 3 seed Vermont 16-13 in the first semifinal game.
Thompson finished with five goals and four assists for nine points, totaling 101 on the season for his third consecutive 100-plus-point season. No other player in Division I men’s lacrosse history has more than one 100-plus-point season.
“We knew offensively, we had to play more structured,” Thompson said. “Coach [Marr] was telling me to get high on the dodge. Once I scored some goals, they were coming to me a bit better.”
Blaze Riorden anchored the Albany defense, saving nine shots on 15 Hartford attempts on goal, adding seven ground balls. As a whole, Albany caused 15 Hartford turnovers, with AJ Kluck, Tim Cox and Stone Sims each causing a pair, and successfully defended against all five Hartford man-up chances.
It is the top defensive performance for Albany in the America East Tournament since defeating Stony Brook 17-5 in the conference semifinals on March 3, 2007.
“I was seeing the ball well, and the defense gave up shots that I could save,” Riorden said. “Our offense gave us that cushion that kept us loose.”
Connor Fields scored three goals and an assist, adding four ground balls. Taking over duties at the center-X in the second quarter, Cason Liles won 12 of 15 faceoffs.
For Hartford, Justin Huggins netted a hat trick with a pair of caused turnovers while Kevin O’Shea had two goals, an assist and two caused turnovers. Ryan Vanderford got the loss in goal despite 17 saves.