A Memorable Win At Hopkins May Have Signaled A Magical Run Was In Store For Albany
If 10th-ranked Albany breaks through in the postseason and makes its first-ever trip to the NCAA tournament final four, the Great Danes probably will look back on a memorable road trip to Baltimore in early April as the defining moment of a wild spring.
Albany (10-3) already was on a roll before coming to Johns Hopkins, where Great Danes coach Scott Marr once was a teammate of Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala. The Danes had opened the season with a 16-15 overtime win at Syracuse, then gave up 35 combined goals in losses to Drexel and Yale. Then, they started to tighten up their defense, while continuing to unleash the Thompson attack trio — Lyle, Miles and Ty — that register points like a busy pinball machine.
On the way to Hopkins, Albany made a Jersey Turnpike pit stop at the new Meadowlands home of the New York Giants, where John Berger, the father of Albany midfielder Justin Berger, has worked for over two decades as the team's director of football information. Marr wanted his team to meet coach Tom Coughlin, see those four Lombardi trophies, tour a world-class facility and hear an inspired speech from defensive backs coach Peter Giunta, whose theme hammered home the idea of unexpected players stepping up at key times for championship teams.
A day later on April 5, the Danes made it happen at Homewood. Lyle Thompson, the leading scorer in the nation, was held scoreless. A bunch of someones stepped up. Freshman goalie Blaze Riorden made 20 saves. Sophomore middie Derrick Eccles scored on a crazy rebound early in the fourth. LSM Doug Eich scored his first goal of the season late, and it proved to be the difference in a 10-9 upset.
It was easily the lowest-scoring game of the spring for a team that averages 16 per outing. And it might have been the night when Albany truly realized it was capable of special things in 2013.