Tehoka Nanticoke was a huge addition this season, according to his Iroquois Nationals teammate Chaunce Hill, who is excited to be at a program that embraces the Haudenosaunee game. (Courtesy Bill Ziskin, University of Albany Athletics)
Tomorrow in Maryland, the two top NCAA field lacrosse teams will meet with both having a chance to make a solid statement of quality after a third of the season is in the books.
The number-one ranked University of Albany takes its roster of top talent including a handful of the Iroquois Nationals’ finest to last year’s champions University of Maryland to find out who leaves with a loss on the record.
The Albany Great Danes continued the team’s perfect season in Amherst, Massachusetts Tuesday, where the boys in purple handily took care of Massachusetts 19-8, with Iroquois Nationals phenom Tehoka Nanticoke (five goals, three assists) and Connor Fields (five goals, seven assists) putting in another offensive showcase.
Albany has had a dream season thus far, first beating Syracuse 15-3 in Syracuse to start the year.
Coach Scott Marr spoke to The Eastern Door about how the Danes have blasted out of the gate so effectively.
“We got good senior leadership as we have in the past,” said Marr. “We’ve got a group that’s been in some big games and been to the quarterfinals a couple times as seniors, so an experienced group. I think we’re just solid, like they say in baseball, up the middle.”
A huge addition this season was Six Nations’ Nanticoke. Iroquois Nationals defenceman Chaunce Hill spoke to The Eastern Door about what Nanticoke’s impact this season.
“They brought in the number-one recruit Tehoka, that has made a big impact to help out a lot,” said Hill. “Lots of chemistry between all the offence.”
Nanticoke, along with senior first team All-American Fields, have been straight up deadly all season.
“He (Nanticoke) certainly adds another dimension to our offence,” said Marr. “You couple him with Connor Fields, who was one of the best (first team all American last year as a Junior) and the two of them together make a pretty tough combination of guys to tackle. Tehoka’s a big strong kid who can shoot and can pass, he’s very dynamic in how he plays.”
Hill is in his Junior year, and likes how the team has developed over the three years he’s been there.
“The team has been coming along for a long time now, and making the big step that we needed working toward our goal,” said Hill.
In addition to Hill and Nanticoke, Albany also boasts Haudenosaunee players Mitch Laffin, Colyn Lyons and Cougar Kirby from Kahnawake.
“We have a diverse team with Seniors down to Freshmen playing,” said Kirby. “Obviously Tehoka and Fields are a huge factor leading the offence, but our defence is crazy good too, and our goalie is a brick wall in net, so we have a great opportunity. We just need to be the best we can week-by-week, and it should work out well.”
Kirby had a tough break in his freshman year when a heel injury kept him off the active roster for the whole season. Marr knows injuries early are tough on young players, often ending their motivation to keep playing.
“It’s never easy to get hurt early in your career,” said Marr. “It’s one thing if you’ve played and you’ve been in a system. When guys get hurt early it’s a tough go because you need to develop when you’re young, and when you can’t play, it’s tough because you miss the growth period and you don’t necessarily get that back.”
Kirby, however, has recovered and, according to Marr, continues to improve and put in the time at practice.
The coach added that though Laffin, Hill and Kirby may not play as much as the stars on the team, each have their talents and is counted on to contribute.
Hill spoke about Marr’s effort to recruit Haudenosaunee players, which will soon include Kahnawake phenom Teioshontathe McComber.
“It makes it feel like a home away from home with all of them on there,” said Hill. “It means a lot, and he really cares about the game as we see it. He lets us play the game how we play it and have fun doing what we do best, which is play lacrosse.”
Looking forward, Marr knows the team needs to just keep doing what it’s doing to vie for the school’s first Division I championship in its history.
“It’s just a matter of continuing to improve and following the process throughout the season,” said Marr. “Take it one game at a time, but continue to work hard and get prepared for the playoffs… Stay focused and stay in the moment and not look too far ahead.”
Thus far, Marr is happy with the effort, but also the attitude on the field.
“We have a lot of fun, and that’s part of why we played so well yesterday; we were pretty loose, and I went out and I talked to the boys about putting a smile on their faces and enjoying the couple of hours that we’re out here,” said Marr.
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