(3) Vermont v. (2) Stony Brook
The Catamounts looked like a team about to turn the America East into a rollicking adventure through the insane asylum: Leading 7-6 after 30 minutes over heavily favored Stony Brook, Vermont was positioned to not only ruin the Seawolves' hopes for a trip to the NCAA Tournament but also take a voyage toward uncharted waters for the program. The second half, however, would be a different story for Vermont as Stony Brook outscored the Catamounts 10-6 in the final half hour to earn a worrisome but valued 16-13 victory in the first semifinal of the America East Tournament.
Mike Rooney put on a display at Bob Ford Field, accumulating nine points on five goals and four assists. Rooney's steady hand was critical for the Seawolves in the first half as they withstood an assault from Vermont, the senior attackman accounted for five of his points in the game's first two quarters, his two tallies and three helpers in the first two quarters keeping Stony Brook in striking distance of the upset-minded Catamounts. Stony Brook simply overwhelmed Vermont in the second half, punctuating the Seawolves' desire to take control of the game -- and the team's future -- with a 5-1 quarter out of the intermission that featured only four shots from the Catamounts and a 38 percent accuracy effort from Stony Brook. Vermont made the fourth quarter interesting with a five-goal output that erased three markers from the deficit the team faced entering the final stanza, but the Seawolves' six-goal advantage at the end of 45 minutes was too significant for the Catamounts to overcome.
Vermont closes the book on its 2015 campaign with a 6-10 record, the team's first season with at least six triumphs since a 6-9 effort in 2011.
(4) Hartford v. (1) Albany
Albany progressed to the America East Tournament championship for the fourth consecutive year following the Great Danes' 15-6 handling of Hartford on Albany's home field. The Great Danes are seeking their third straight tournament crown and seventh championship in the league's postseason event. The loss ends Hartford's 2015 season with a 7-7 record.
Unlike many of Albany's games this season, the Great Danes did not uncork shock and awe on the Heartbeat at the onset of the contest. The Great Danes emerged from the first quarter with only a 3-2 lead and went into the locker room at the half with a relatively tiny 7-4 advantage over the fourth-seeded Hawks. The Great Danes' offense -- the team's high-end flux capacitor -- was solid but not spectacular against Hartford in the game's first 30 minutes: The Great Danes took 27 shots and connected on seven, a rate of 25.93 percent, while committing seven turnovers. Hartford, meanwhile, was four of 13 in the first half, shooting just 30.77 percent, but committed almost as many turnovers (nine) as the Hawks had looks at the net. Hartford was close to Albany after two quarters, but the Hawks' inability to generate opportunities and maximize them kept the team far enough away from the Great Danes to permit Albany to build momentum.
And that's exactly what the Danes did. Albany pounded eight goals on Hartford in the second half and held Hartford to four scores. Albany found its stroke -- the team shot 32 percent in the second half -- while the Hawks were only able to generate 17 shots against nine turnovers. The estimated possession differential in the last two periods also compressed Hartford's hopes for making up ground on the Great Danes with Albany holding a plus-nine advantage in the metric over the last 30 minutes.
Lyle Thompson ended his night with five goals and four assists. Justin Huggins had three goals to lead the Hawks.