Five seconds from pulling a huge upset, the players on Stony Brook men's lacrosse team instead had their hearts broken Thursday night.
Lyle Thompson scored with five seconds remaining in regulation to tie it and set up defenseman Doug Eich for his first goal of the season 35 seconds into sudden-death overtime as top-seeded Albany beat the fourth-seeded Seawolves, 17-16, in an America East Tournament semifinal last night at Stony Brook.
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"To come that close and to come up short, it hurts,'' said midfielder Mike Andreassi, who had a second-half hat trick and put Stony Brook ahead 16-15 with a man-advantage goal with 3:34 remaining in regulation.
Albany (10-5), the highest- scoring Division I team in the nation, will play UMBC -- a 16-10 winner over Binghamton -- in Saturday's final at Stony Brook. The winner earns an automatic NCAA berth.
Thursday night's game had plenty of twists and turns, momentum changes, brilliant goals and heroes.
The Thompson brothers, Lyle and Miles, the country's two leading Division I goal-scorers, played their roles as expected. Miles had seven goals and two assists; Lyle had five goals and three assists. Miles has 67 goals this season and Lyle has 42.
But there were some unlikely heroes as well.
Andreassi, who entered the game with 11 goals this season, spearheaded a fourth-quarter surge in which the Seawolves (6-10) turned a 15-11 deficit into a 16-15 lead. "We knew they weren't going to go away even if we got up,'' he said.
With time running out, Lyle Thompson found some space on the left side and beat freshman goalie Hayden Johnstone with five seconds left.
"Lyle Thompson, if he doesn't get the Tewaraaton [Award], that's crap,'' Stony Brook coach Jim Nagle said of college lacrosse's biggest honor. "He's clearly earned it, is the best player in the country. He showed it tonight.''
Given a second life, Albany did not waste it, winning the game with an unlikely goal-scorer of its own in OT.
After Albany goalie Blaze Riorden saved Challen Rogers' shot, the Great Danes cleared the ball out of the zone. Eich found himself with the ball on the left side and scored.
"Lyle pretty much drew the whole team and they obviously thought he was going to the goal," Eich said. "He just found me. It was an easy goal.''
The Seawolves owned the first quarter, scoring the game's first four goals en route to taking a 5-2 lead. Albany and the Thompson brothers dominated the middle periods before Stony Brook came alive in the fourth quarter.
"We've been struggling to be a team all year,'' Nagle said. "I thought that at the most pivotal time, we showed that we were a great team tonight.''
Matt Schultz also scored three goals for Stony Brook. Brody Eastwood and Rogers added two each. Chris Hughes, Mike Rooney, Frank Lucatuorto, Kyle Rowe, Dylan Curry and Jake Sichenzia had one each.
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