UAlbany MLAX Brings Uncharted Success, Pride for the Region

The men's lacrosse team made its first ever appearance in the national semifinals this past weekend at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., home of the NFL's New England Patriots. (Photos by Paul Miller)

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 29, 2018) -- For the 2018 men’s lacrosse team, a season of firsts ended one game short of where they wanted to go. UAlbany’s magical season came to an end Saturday at the hands of eventual national champion Yale in the national semifinals in Foxboro, Mass. But the team brought uncharted success, excitement and admiration among students, faculty, staff and alumni for their exploits both on the field and off of it.

The 2018 campaign began with a 15-3 throttling of in-state rival Syracuse, only the second victory in the series for the Great Danes, but the second largest home defeat ever for the Orange, behind only a 19-6 loss to Cornell in 1987.

From there, the team got on a roll, rattling off 10 consecutive wins and garnering the No. 1 ranking in the nation, becoming the first ever SUNY school to do so at the Division I level. Among the victories was a five-goal fourth quarter rally against defending national champion Maryland in College Park. Along the way, senior star Connor Fields has managed to climb to No. 2 on the all-time NCAA points chart, and fought back to lead the team into its first Final Four while battling a serious knee injury.

Sophomore T.D. Ierlan compiled the greatest statistical campaign for a faceoff specialist, breaking the Division I record for ground balls and face-offs won, as well as highest winning percentage and ground balls per game in a single season.

UAlbany fans cheer the Great Danes Lacrosse team at Gilette Stadium during the national semifinals

The Great Danes may have been halted in their NCAA run at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, but that didn't stop a host of dedicated fans from erupting in cheers over a UAlbany goal during the battle against Yale.

But the superlatives were not only limited to the field. Senior Kyle McClancy, who was named the Warrior/U.S. Lacrosse Player of the Week for his heroics against quarterfinal opponent Denver, was also honored with the 2017-18 Scholar-Athlete Award by SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson.

Teammate Josh Egan, with his 3.96 GPA in business, was presented with the NCAA’s Elite 90 award at the Championship Weekend Banquet in Foxboro on Thursday night, becoming the first-ever Great Dane to earn this honor. Egan graduated this past week. A two-way midfielder for the Great Danes, Egan has played in all 18 games this season, compiling five goals, two assists and 15 ground balls.

The Elite 90 award is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s championships.

“Our men’s lacrosse team has achieved so much during this historic season, both on and off the field,” said UAlbany President Havidán Rodríguez. “From being the first SUNY Team to earn a No. 1 NCAA Division I ranking, to earning academic honors with both a SUNY Scholar-Athlete and an NCAA Elite 90 Award winner, these young men are exemplary of UAlbany’s greatness.”

The team became known for its freestyle approach on offense that positioned to lead the nation in scoring for the fifth consecutive year. But as free-wheeling as they were on the field, the players remained a close group off of it, thanks in large part to their head coach in Scott Marr.

Always one to eschew any negative energy from entering the team’s locker room, Marr embraced the quirky persona of his team, to the point of growing out his hair at the suggestion of senior defensive midfielder Troy Reh.

Marr saved his most poignant remarks for after the final whistle blew on Saturday.

When asked if there were any regrets after that loss, Marr was definitive in his response. “Definitely not. I told them after the game, the result isn’t why you do it, why you coach. You coach for the little things during the week. You coach for the time you have them in the office.”

Marr has led the Great Danes every year at the Division I level, having coached four teams to the NCAA Quarterfinals in previous years, and two Tewaaraton Award winners in brothers Miles and Lyle Thompson. Lyle, the NCAA career leader in points, won the award twice (2014 and 2015).

But the 2018 edition of the Great Danes will hold a special place in his heart, as well as those of the thousands of UAlbany fans who flocked to Foxboro to witness a great team play for their coach, their university and each other on Saturday.

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