Tehoka Nanticoke Lives Up to Billing in NCAA Debut


Albany's Tehoka Nanticoke operates against Syracuse's Tyson Bomberry, a matchup of Six Nations natives frequently won by Nanticoke, who scored five goals in his collegiate debut, a 15-3 Great Danes victory.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — With five goals in No. 3 Albany’s season opener against No. 9 Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, Tehoka Nanticoke just introduced himself to college lacrosse, displaying poise, power and panache.

After giving up the first goal of the game to Syracuse’s Jamie Trimboli, the Great Danes rallied to a 2-1 lead in the first quarter and maintained the lead in a 15-3 rout, notching only their second victory in the past 17 meetings against the Orange. 

Nanticoke’s first NCAA goal came early in the second quarter, when he drove from the right side, cut between two defenders and closed on the goalie, finishing close-in with a pump fake and a flick of the ball into the back of the net. Jakob Patterson scored another close-range goal off an assist by Connor Fields to give Albany a 4-1 lead at the half.

Whatever hopes Syracuse may have had at that point were completely dashed with a third quarter in which the Great Danes outscored the Orange 7-1.

If Nanticoke felt any pressure heaped onto his NCAA debut, being the No. 1 recruit in the country facing Albany’s top upstate rival, he certainly didn’t show it. He was the picture of calm on the field, biding his time and readily swinging the ball to his teammates without looking like he would try to force anything, until his first strike revealed the reality that what might have looked like reticence was merely patience. Then in the third quarter, Nanticoke unleashed a clear glimpse of his scoring potential, netting four of Albany’s seven goals by muscling through defenders to create shot opportunities, showcasing his quickstep roll in the post, an elusive stick and a right-handed rip-shot that makes him a threat from distance.

Nanticoke offset his confident demeanor on the field with a humble approach to his first post-game NCAA press conference. When asked about the swagger that some perceive he displays, he said, “I feel like I’ve been doing this my whole life. I don’t try to be swag. I just try to play lacrosse.”

Tewaaraton finalist Connor Fields scored two goals and had two assists, being the go-to player to break down the defense whenever things stagnated for the Albany attack. Patterson also had a monster game, seeming to step into position at will on the Syracuse defense to fire shots, netting four goals. JD Colarusso was nearly impenetrable in the cage, thwarting 10 Syracuse shots on goal. And TD Ierlan won 16 of 21 faceoffs, a sophomore in his second year of singlehandedly solving the Great Danes’ past woes at the X.

The story here is not Nanticoke being introduced as a one-man show in the NCAA. It’s that he is a uniquely talented addition to an amazing team. As he patiently eased into a rhythm of dominance in this season opener, flipping one-handed passes through traffic to try to set other players up, the potential for this team to grow as the season progresses became evident.

If there’s one thing that makes a Scott Marr team dangerous, it’s when his players start to look like they’re having a lot of fun out on the field. Nanticoke joins a team that feeds off that style of play, and he looked like he was just getting started enjoying himself here in the NCAA, which could make Albany the most exciting team to watch this season.   

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