The UMBC defense had the daunting task Saturday of trying to shut down three Albany attackmen who have almost uncanny awareness of one another on the field, two of whom are among the most prolific scorers in NCAA Division I lacrosse.
The Great Danes' Lyle and Miles Thompson entered the game ranked first and second nationally in points per game, averaging 6.6 and 6.1, respectively. The duo, along with cousin Ty, spent the afternoon trading passes, firing behind-the-back shots and generally causing havoc in front of the UMBC goal.
The Retrievers simply could not keep up, falling, 18-14, before an announced 1,449 at UMBC Stadium on Senior Day. UMBC plays its final regular-season game next Saturday at Vermont, whose loss Saturday to Hartford secured the Retrievers' place in the America East tournament, which they never have missed.
"We knew it was going to be a high-scoring game," UMBC coach Don Zimmerman said. "I think our defense played well in spots and didn't play well in spots. We gave them some transition goals. They're the best team in the country when it comes to transition. Kudos to Albany, but we knew it was going to be a barnburner when it came to offense."
Nate Lewnes (St. Mary's) tied a career high with five goals for UMBC (6-6 overall, 2-2 league).
Matt Gregoire (South River) and Pat Young each had three goals for the Retrievers. Phil Poe tied his school record by winning 23 of 35 faceoffs and had 15 ground balls, giving him 303 for his career — third all-time for UMBC.
Senior Miles Thompson, who entered the game with an NCAA-best 45 goals, had six goals and four assists. He also became Albany's all-time leading scorer with 251 points, Meanwhile, junior Lyle Thompson, who led the country in assists (50) and points per game (6.5) entering the week, had two goals and five assists. He also became the school's all-time assist leader, with 134.
"We want to push the ball and we're always trying to score," Miles Thompson said. "It's fun for us to get all of those goals. It's a fun game to play."
Matthew Bertrams had four goals on six shots, and Ty Thompson added two goals and three assists for the Danes (7-5, 4-0).
Goals by Gregoire and Poe in the final minute of the first half pulled UMBC to within 9-8 at the break. However, a penalty by the Retrievers helped Albany take a two-goal lead with 10:10 left in the third quarter on a goal by Bennett Drake. Two minutes later, Lyle Thompson added to the margin by finishing off a counter.
"They play very unselfish," Albany coach Scott Marr, a Johns Hopkins alum, said about the Thompsons. "It's a lot of fun doing what they do for us. I could put together a highlight from practice that would just be incredible to watch. They've just unbelievable to have. At this point, we're looking at the two of them to have over 100 points in the same season, which has never been done. So it's been pretty special."
UMBC remained patient on offense and tried to set the tempo. The strategy was effective as a goal by Zach Linkous (St. Paul's) pulled the Retrievers to within 11-9 with 6:40 remaining in third quarter. Albany countered by getting the ball to its top playmakers, and Miles Thompson fed Bertrams again to get the margin back to three.
After Young pulled UMBC to within 12-10, Miles Thompson quickly answered for Albany. The Danes continued to wear down UMBC, and Matt Garziano provided a 14-10 lead in the opening two minutes of the fourth quarter. Gregoire answered for UMBC with 11:31 left in the game. But it was Miles Thomson once again who stopped any momentum with another goal.
The Retrievers outshot Albany 46-39. However, Danes goalie Blaze Riorden came up big with 20 saves, including several from point-blank range.
A pair of goals by Lewnes pulled UMBC to within 15-13 midway through the fourth quarter. However, Lyle Thompson dished out assists to Ty Thompson and Miles Thompson in a two-minute span, and the lead was back to four goals with 4:30 left to seal the game.
Lewnes and Albany's Bennett Drake traded goals in the final 3:33.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun