ALBANY, N.Y. – The 8-seed UAlbany men's lacrosse team outscored its opponent 14-3 in the first half and held off a late charge to defeat ACC champion and defending NCAA champion North Carolina 15-12 in front of an NCAA First Round record 6,472 fans to advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals.
After giving up the first goal, UAlbany (15-2) scored 12 of the next 13 goals, and 14 of the next 16, to build an 11-goal lead at halftime. North Carolina (8-8) came roaring back with a 9-0 run into the fourth quarter to pull within two. UAlbany called timeout and held the Tar Heels scoreless in the final 10:11 of the game to take the victory.
“That is quite possibly the best athletic event I've ever been a part of, 17 years in the making with the stadium, community, students, it was surreal at times,” said UAlbany head coach Scott Marr. “I am so proud of my guys for navigating through some adversity in the third period and sticking with it in the fourth period and getting it done.”
“Lacrosse is a game of runs, we knew we had that lead at half; we did not want to be complacent, but they came out hot,” said Connor Fields. “Going into the fourth quarter, it was huge that we got it back together.”
UAlbany advances to the NCAA Quarterfinal Round and will take on the winner of Maryland/Bryant on Sunday, May 21st at noon or 2:30 p.m. at Delaware Stadium in Newark. Maryland hosts Bryant in the NCAA First Round on Sunday, May 14th at 2:30 p.m.
This marks the third time in four years, and fourth overall, that UAlbany has advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals. UAlbany also wins its second-ever home game in the NCAA Tournament to improve to 2-0 in the Capital District in such games.
“This year we are a more even team in terms of scoring points, with the scoring spread out,” said Adam Osika. “Our chemistry off the field kept getting better every year.”
The crowd of 6,472 is the largest crowd to ever watch an NCAA Tournament First Round game since the field expanded to 16 teams in 2003. It is also the largest crowd to ever watch a UAlbany men's lacrosse home game.
UAlbany outshot North Carolina 46-43, including 27-12 in the first half. TD Ierlan took all of UAlbany's faceoffs, winning 23-of-30 with 11 ground balls.
Three UAlbany players finished with five points: Bennett Drake had a team-high five goals, adding two ground balls, Osika earned three goals, two assists and four ground balls while Fields had a goal, four assists and three caused turnovers. Kyle McClancy added a hat trick plus three ground balls. JD Colarusso notched the victory in goals with 13 saves and four ground balls.
For UNC, Chris Cloutier led all players with six points off five goals and an assist, with Luke Goldstock and Jack Rowlett each having two goals. Brian Balkam had the loss in goal with 11 goals allowed and seven saves in 52:33 of play.
After some early back-and-forth, Cloutier scored a behind-the-back goal to put UNC on the board in the first five minutes. Osika evened up the score, picking up a ground ball on a second chance and netting the shot while falling near the crease.
UAlbany put up two goals in less than 45 seconds, with McClancy ripping a goal top shelf, then Drake faking out the keeper and scoring while hit point blank. UAlbany had another pair of quick goals minutes later as Mitch Laffin broke through a double team, grabbing a pass and scoring, then Drake scoring man-up on a quick catch and shoot from a Fields rocket pass. With 2:36 left, Sean Eccles scored on a bouncing shot on the shot clock to complete the run at 6-0.
UNC scored with 10 seconds left in the first quarter; UAlbany got the goal back as Ierlan won a faceoff, quickly passed to a wide open Fields for the shot and score with three seconds in the period. UAlbany led 7-2 after one.
UAlbany continued the attack into the second quarter as Drake grabbed a pass in the middle of the arc, turning and shooting for the goal. Minutes later, McClancy caught the UNC keeper out of position and scored after emerging from behind the cage, then Drake added another goal from John Glancy on a long range shot into the corner. Continuing the run, McClancy scored on a very long range bouncer, then Eli Lasda sprinted towards the middle and hit a low shot. UAlbany led 12-2 with seven minutes left in the second.
UNC got a goal back with 2:55 remaining in the second. UAlbany put away two more shots, as Drake spun into a defender and scored close range then Osika scored on a run towards the outside, leading 14-3 at the half.
After a quick UNC goal seconds into the third, Colarusso stopped the next four UNC shots on goal in the next seven minutes. The Tar Heels connected on a Cloutier goal with 7:37 left to pull within 10 at 14-4.
Three different goal-scorers put four goals on the board for North Carolina in the final 4:10 of the third, including two more for Cloutier, to bring the visitors within five at 14-9 after three quarters.
UNC's offensive play followed up with three more goals, including two shortly after won clears and another off a forced turnover on the faceoff, to complete a 9-0 run and make it 14-12 UAlbany with 10:12 to play.
UNC won the next faceoff and fired away at the goal five times. Three went wide and Colarusso saved a pair, grabbing a ground ball to end the possession. The other way, an Osika shot was blocked, then Fields forced a turnover on the ride to keep the ball on offense. Osika got another opportunity, dodging his defender and scoring inside the left pipe, making it 15-12 with 5:49 left.
UAlbany got the faceoff on a violation and had a long possession, aided by another Fields caused turnover on the ride. UAlbany held for two-and-a-half minutes, then UNC had its last shot on goal with 2:01 left and Colarusso making the save. UAlbany took the 15-12 victory.