Big-time players come through in big-time games. Albany’s star senior attackman Lyle Thompson did so again, tallying six points and leading the Albany Great Danes to their third straight America East Men’s Lacrosse championship, defeating the second-seeded Stony Brook Seawolves 22-9.
This is Albany’s third straight America East Championship crown, and the Great Danes broke the conference’s record for most goals in the title game in the process.
Thompson tallied all five of his goals in the first half, including scoring the first three for the Great Danes, who had two separate 4-0 runs in the first half to go into the break up 8-5. Thompson then used another one to take control early in the third quarter.
The second-half dominance would not stop there, as Albany went on to outscore Stony Brook 13-4 in the final 30 minutes after the Seawolves hung tough for the first 30, including a 7-1 fourth quarter in favor of the Great Danes.
The throne Thompson, who will go down as one of the best men’s lacrosse players ever, currently occupies could very well be filled next by freshman attackman Connor Fields. He had himself a day, tallying four goals and adding four assists.
After the Seawolves took a 2-0 lead in the first quarter, the defending co-Tewaaraton award winner Thompson did it all on his own. To get the Great Danes on the board, he cut in front of the net and bounced it past sophomore goalie Hayden Johnstone to make it 2-1.
He then proceeded to give the Great Danes a lead after a very long possession that culminated in Thompson whipping it home from about eight yards out to give Albany a 3-2 advantage, something the Great Danes would not relinquish for the remainder of the matchup.
After allowing a fourth goal, Stony Brook cut the lead back to 4-3, as senior attackman Mike Rooney floated a pass from behind the goal to sophomore midfielder Ryan Bitzer, who fired it past Albany junior goalkeeper Blaze Riorden.
The late-quarter goal momentum was quickly erased as Adam Osika took the ball and walked right through a mishap in Stony Brook’s defense to make it 5-3 Great Danes.
Thompson then scored his final two goals of the game, both from the “x” and going to either side of the goal, with the latter of the two with a very nice scooping goal to make it 8-3 Albany.
Midfielders Jeff Reh and Challen Rogers were able to cut the Seawolves lead to 8-5 with 8:19 to play in the first half, but that is as close as they would get the rest of the way.
Four different Great Danes scored in a six-goal third quarter, with Fields leading the way with a hat trick and an assist for the Great Danes to take a commanding 15-8 lead heading into the final period.
It was six different players wearing purple and gold jerseys in the fourth quarter of the matchup, including sophomore attackman Bennett Drake and freshman midfielder Kyle McClancy adding their lone goals of the contest.
Senior attackman Rooney was held relatively silent in what was quite possibly his final game of his storied Stony Brook career, only accumulating four points on the morning, under his average of 6.3 per game coming into the title game.
While Albany grabbed the automatic bid to the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament by winning the America East Conference, Stony Brook will have to wait out, and most like sweat out, the selection show on Sunday night to see if its resume impresses the committee enough for an at-large bid.