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2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Tournament: Previewing Yale and Albany

The first semifinal is a regular season rematch, with both teams making their first Championship Weekend appearance in a long time (or ever).

Bill Ziskin for UAlbany Athletics

We are here! We did it, y’all! Championship Weekend is upon us!

In Foxborough, we’ll have five games on tap in three days. Three of those games will involve Division I teams, while the other two will be for the Division II and III games respectively.

Here’s a recap of where things are right now:

Let’s kick things off with our first semifinal, pitting the Yale Bulldogs against the Albany Great Danes.

Tale of the Tape: #3 Yale Bulldogs vs. #2 Albany Great Danes

#3 YALE BULLDOGS #2 ALBANY GREAT DANES
#3 YALE BULLDOGS #2 ALBANY GREAT DANES
15-3 Record 16-2
Ben Reeves (56) Goals leader Tehoka Nanticoke (49)
Ben Reeves (46) Assists leader Connor Fields (50)
Ben Reeves (102) Points leader Tehoka Nanticoke/Connor Fields (81)
Conor Mackie (176) Ground balls leader TD Ierlan (246)
Christopher Keating (23) Caused turnovers leader Stone Sims (18)
Conor Mackie (261-404, 64.6%) Face-off leader TD Ierlan (341-421, 81.0%)
Jack Starr (8.12 GAA, 48.5%) Goaltender JD Colarusso (7.63 GAA, 57.4%)
13.61 (4th) Scoring offense 14.61 (1st)
7.78 (4th) Assists per game 9.72 (1st)
21.39 (4th) Points per game 24.33 (1st)
8.56 (11th) Scoring defense 8.00 (T4th)
46.6% (11th) Man-up offense 36.4% (27th)
67.2% (38th) Man-down defense 61.0% (52nd)
32.2% (17th) Shot percentage 32.4% (15th)
87.0% (39th) Clearing percentage 91.8% (5th)

First Time...

For the first time in their 19 year history as a Division I program, the Great Danes have made it to Championship Weekend. It’s a big opportunity for head coach Scott Marr to make history for the program. He’s got a talented group of players in Connor Fields, Tehoka Nanticoke, and TD Ierlan at his disposal. One thing that the Great Danes may lack is a lack of depth on offense. After the attackmen and top three midfielders led by Kyle McClancy and Sean Eccles, the second midfield doesn’t have a ton of scoring punch. Alex Burgmaster leads that unit with nine goals and four assists, but the lack of offense gets made up with those guys being able to also play on defense.

...Long Time

For the first time since 1990, the Bulldogs are back in the national semifinals. They haven’t won a national championship in the modern era, with their only one coming in 1883. Do they have that trophy on display? But Andy Shay’s team has a very good defense and is also deep on offense. Their second midfield contributed last week in Brian Tevlin’s second goal of the season. They can score a little more than Albany’s second midfield. Their only weakness is Jack Starr in goal, but he had a nice game last week against Loyola.

Players To Watch

  • Tehoka Nanticoke, A, Albany: In their first meeting a little over a month ago, the freshman recorded no points on nine shots. A big reason for that was due to Connor Fields injuring himself for the second time in the year. The big young guy needs to step up in a huge way, like he did last week with three tallies.
  • Connor Filipowski, D, Albany: The sophomore was called into action last week after Erik Dluhy went down with an injury. Filipowski played very well in his absence, recording a caused turnover in the win. If Dluhy can’t go this weekend, look for the sophomore to go up against one of Yale’s attackmen.
  • Ben Reeves, A, Yale: The senior recently won the Enners Award this week, and is right now the favorite to win the Tewaaraton. But is he the best player left standing? Some might think Fields is, but Reeves is more than likely healthier than Fields at this point in time. He’s a better attackman than Ethan Walker and has plenty of talent around him.
  • John Daniggelis, M, Yale: Last week, Denver’s midfielders were strong against Albany’s short sticks, exposing them easily. Daniggelis could get either McClancy or Eccles if he’s matched up with a short stick, and that could prove to be bad for Albany if they can’t get some solid defense from those guys.

Matchup To Watch

  • Conor Mackie vs. TD Ierlan: The face-off battle that wasn’t really a battle in the first meeting will matter and be a little different the second time around. Mackie went 13-of-21 against Ierlan, who was playing with a day of rest after playing Binghamton. It was a weird scenario for the Great Danes as a whole, and I think this will be a really different Albany team come Saturday afternoon. Talking to some Albany writers, Ierlan has memorized his game against Mackie and knows what to work on, as well as his usual game preparation. Look for the wings to play a pivotal role as well, similar to what we saw with Ierlan and Trevor Baptiste last weekend in Hempstead.

At least Connor Fields isn’t the one taking the draws!

Prediction

According to Lax Vegas Lines, Yale is a one goal favorite against Albany. The over/under for goals is 23.5.

This game could be a fun offensive battle like we saw in the first quarter of Loyola-Yale or a defensive stalwart like the remainder of that game. Albany can be hit or miss at times, while we know what we’re getting with Yale. Both teams haven’t been in this setting before, so experience doesn’t matter at all. I think we do see an above average offensive outburst in this game, and the Dane Train continues to roll into Memorial Day Monday.

Pick: Albany 13, Yale 11.

For all our coverage this weekend, be sure to follow College Crosse on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And be sure to follow me on Twitter as well for my journeys this weekend!