March 16, 2014

Unbeaten Albany Spreads Wealth to Beat Cornell

by Andrew Santillo | LaxMagazine.com

 

ALBANY, N.Y. – John Battaglino would like as many different players to score goals as possible.

When the University at Albany coach got the halftime box score on Sunday, he was pleasantly surprised to already see seven different goal scorers.

“We’re well-balanced and that’s always been my thing,” said Battaglino.

It’s one thing to have balance. It’s another to have a program that is in the Top 10 in both scoring offense and defense.

The Great Danes (5-0) remained undefeated, using an all-around effort to down Cornell, 17-10, at John Fallon Field.

“I was proud of us,” said freshman Dakotah Savitcheff, who was one of four Albany players to record a hat trick.  

The Great Danes were unable to play Friday’s scheduled home game against St. Bonaventure, due to a mid-March winter storm that left John Fallon Field a sheet of ice.

That’s about the only thing that has been able to slow down this club, as they are winning by an average margin of nine goals per game.

The Great Danes rank in the Top 10 nationally in both scoring offense (16.4 gpg) and defense (7.4 gpg) – usually a good recipe for a successful team.

“We’re getting it,” said Battaglino, who is now 48-12 (.800) in his first four seasons at the helm for the Great Danes. “A lot of different kids are popping in.”

The Albany offense showed just how it’s so explosive, but it did take a little while to get started.

Cornell got goals from Amie Dickson and Rachel Moody, to take a 2-0 lead, five minutes in.

Then, the floodgates opened, as goals came from every which way for the Great Danes. Albany got goals from four different players over the next 10 minutes and never looked back, also scoring seven of the half’s final eight tallies.

“I think when we all play together – defense, goalies and offense – if we’re all together, we can be so good – unstoppable,” said Savitcheff.

It was her goal in the first half, on a feed from Rachel Bowles, which was the prettiest of all. Savitcheff caught a pass, just a touch behind her, did a 360-degree spin move and fired it past the Cornell keeper.

“She saved me on that one,” Bowles joked about the pass being just a touch behind her teammate.

Bowels finished with a team-high four goals and the one helper, while Ariana Parker and Allie Phelan each scored three goals.

Albany is receiving votes in the national polls and the Great Danes have been to the NCAA tournament two of the past three years. That’s the expectation once again.

Battaglino didn’t hesitate when saying he believes his team should be ranked, but he also knows it’s not the end goal.

“I take it with a grain of salt,” he said. “If you just keep winning, then you’re kind of hard to ignore.”

The Big Red (4-2) scored five of the game’s final seven goals, but their high-scoring offense only managed five goals in the game’s first 47 minutes.

“I think we have a very strong defense,” Bowles said. “They play together. I think a strong defense carries on through the midfield and then up to the attack.”

Albany’s offensive number may be eye-popping, but when the postseason arrives, it usually is all about defense.

“To me defense always sets the tone,” Battaglino said. “It all starts there.”


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