It’s Tehoka’s Time, as Albany Looks to Keep the Dane Train Rolling

PHOTO BY GREG WALL

Sophomore attackman Tehoka Nanticoke returned to Albany after taking off the fall for personal reasons.


US Lacrosse Magazine released the Nike/US Lacrosse Division I Men’s Preseason Top 20 on Jan. 2. Team-by-team previews will be unveiled on uslaxmagazine.com through the end of the month and will also appear as part of the magazine’s NCAA preview edition in February.

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No. 17 Albany

2018 Record: 16-3 (5-1 America East)
Coach: Scott Marr (19th year)
All-Time Record: 367-296
NCAA Appearances: 10
Final Fours: 1
Championships: 0

The 2018 season was a historic one for Albany men’s lacrosse — a high-powered Great Danes team led by Tewaaraton finalist Connor Fields burst onto the scene, hit No. 1 in the nation and advanced to the final four for the first time in school history.

But shortly after the clock hit zero in the NCAA semifinal loss to Yale at Gillette Stadium, the focus shifted to the 2019 season. As successful as last season was, coach Scott Marr knew the next campaign would be a completely different challenge.

Gone from the final four team were Fields, fellow captain JD Colarusso, brothers Troy and Justin Reh and Kyle McClancy. In total, four All-Americans left the Albany program through graduation.

Then, weeks after the season ended, news broke that TD Ierlan would transfer to NCAA champion Yale. There went another All-American, not to mention someone who’s being called the greatest faceoff specialist of all-time after last year’s record-setting season.

A young core will now attempt to keep the Dane Train rolling.

“It’s always tough to see great players leave your program,” Marr said. “It’s hard for me to turn the page. But when you recruit the younger guys — it’s their time. This is their opportunity, and it’s fun to coach them. You’re just working with a whole new group, forming chemistry and relationships with those guys on the field and off it.”

Leading that group of young guns is honorable-mention All-American Tehoka Nanticoke, who scored 50 goals and added 32 assists in his phenomenal freshman season. He projects to lead the offense as a righty ball carrier, but he skipped the fall season for personal reasons.

The lack of time to develop chemistry between Nanticoke and the rest of the offensive unit, which includes lefty Jakob Patterson and a midfield line of names like Sean Eccles and Alex Burgmaster, could be a factor early on in 2019.

Although Marr would have loved to have his star on campus in the fall, it may have helped his underclassmen garner more responsibility within the offense.

“I tried not to put too much emphasis on [Nanticoke] not being there in the fall,” Marr said. “In fact, it could have been good for us and our guys to take on a different role for themselves.”

If Nanticoke returns to form this season, Marr’s excited to see him work with Patterson to form a strong duo. It may not be Fields-Nanticoke or Thompson-Thompson or Thompson-Fields, but Nanticoke-Patterson could be a very productive tandem.

On the back end, the Great Danes will hope to replace all three poles, Stone Sims at close defense and stalwart Colarusso in the cage. Look out for freshman Tanner Hay to get playing time right away on defense.

Will it be a repeat of last season’s success? That remains to be seen, but significant contributions from 2018 role players will need to be made for another trip to the NCAA tournament.






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The Case For Albany

The Great Danes do lose a good chunk of the team that advanced to the final four, but they welcome back one of the most talented players in the nation in Tehoka Nanticoke. He should become the anchor of the Albany offense, helping lift the games of contributors like Davis Diamond, Mitch Laffin and Jakob Patterson. Sean Eccles and Alex Burgmaster help lead a steady midfield that will help compensate for any losses on the defensive end. Nate Siekierski, although unproven, could come close to replicating the results of former goalie JP Colarusso. This team still has talent, but it will take work to bring it together.

The Case Against Albany

The Great Danes lost all three captains from last season — Connor Fields, Troy Reh and JD Colarusso — each of whom made a tremendous impact on the field. In addition, Kyle McClancy and long pole A.J. Kluck graduated. In total, this team lost almost half of its starts and overall offensive production. Without TD Ierlan, the Great Danes will have to make every possession count. Even a strong recruiting class won’t fill the number of holes left in the starting lineup.

Path to the Playoffs

Luckily for Albany, the path to the NCAA tournament includes the America East conference slate. That’s not to say this conference isn’t competitive — ask the Great Danes about UMBC last season — but it certainly isn’t the Big Ten or ACC. The Great Danes should be near the top of the conference standings against in 2018, offering a good chance to automatically qualify for the postseason. The nonconference slate is extremely challenging, with Maryland (March 9) and Yale (April 19) both visiting Albany and Syracuse (Feb. 16) and Cornell (March 2) hosting it. If it can pull off wins against a couple of these teams, the Great Danes could slip in with an at-large berth.

Players To Watch

Tehoka Nanticoke, A, So.
50G, 32A

Nanticoke turned heads during his freshman season at Albany, adding another weapon for the final four-bound Great Danes. Without Connor Fields on that offense, Nanticoke should take over the reins. Expect his numbers to rise, approaching 100 points on the season.

Jakob Patterson, A/M, Jr.
42G, 7A, 44.2 SH%

Patterson was a complementary piece of the Albany offense, capable of getting hot and scoring in bunches in 2018. He’ll likely move to attack in 2019, taking on a little more responsibility to attack the cage. His numbers should rise as he becomes a second option for Scott Marr and the Great Danes.

Sean Eccles
33G, 14A

Eccles is one of the few senior leaders on this team, and will help anchor the midfield through the 2019 season. He’ll need to step up in big games this season, which was a trend for him during 2018.

National Rankings

Category

Rank

Value

Offense 1st 14.42 GPG
Defense 11th 8.63 GAA
Faceoffs 1st 76.9 FO%
Ground Balls 3rd 33.26/game
Caused TO 54th 5.68/game
Shooting 16th 32.6%
Man-Up 23rd 37.5%
Man-Down 53rd 60.9%
Assists 1st 9.58/game
Turnovers 25th 12.42/game
Clearing 5th 91.8%

Power Ratings (Scale of 1-5)

Offense
⭐⭐⭐⭐

Defense
⭐⭐⭐

Goalkeeping
⭐⭐

Faceoff
⭐⭐

198

Goals scored by seniors on the 2018 Albany men’s lacrosse team. That made up more than 40 percent of the team’s offense.

5-Year Trend
The TD Effect: Faceoff Percentage

Year

Rank

Pct

2014 54th 41.0
2015 45th 45.8
2016 35th 49.5
2017 2nd 68.6
2018 1st 76.9

Coach Confidential
Scott Marr

“We’ll be successful if some of our younger guys step up and really be able to contribute on both ends of the field. It’s always exciting to see who steps up and makes the transition from being a role player to increasing their role.”

Enemy Lines

“They have proven that they are a top team without Lyle Thompson, and they will have to do it again with the departure of TD.”

“What’s the status of Tehoka?”

 “A lot of losses, but the program has been there now.”

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