March 14, 2011

Monday Morning Midfielder: Albany-Syracuse Game Has Sudden Intrigue

by Matt DaSilva | LaxMagazine.com


Albany goalie Edmund Cathers takes up a lot of space in the goal, but he's more than just a big body. Tuesday's game at top-ranked Syracuse will be a homecoming for Cathers and the Great Danes' growing stable of Iroquois players.

© Greg Wall

Blog: Caufield, Bonitatibus Doubtful for Syracuse

An unorthodox goalie once took the Albany men's lacrosse team to the brink of the final four. And while 5-foot-9, 240-pound freshman Edmund Cathers does not invoke images of fleet-footed Brett Queener, he has given the Great Danes reason to believe they can get back there.

Cathers supplanted junior John Carroll as the starter and last week led Albany to upsets over then No. 5-ranked Massachusetts (17 saves) and then No. 13-ranked Ohio State (12 saves). The turnaround for the Great Danes came before then. After a disappointing loss to Drexel, in which Cathers replaced Carroll in the fourth quarter, the freshman stepped up to make 10 saves in a win over sharp-shooting Delaware.

That's 39 saves in three games (all wins) for the kid who takes up a lot of space in the cage, and not in a muscular, Scott Rodgers kind of way.

"Edmund bring a certain kind of calmness to the team. He's a very poised young man. Sometimes we wonder if he has a pulse going, he's so mellow," said Albany head coach Scott Marr. "Yes, he's a big kid that takes up a tremendous amount of the goal, but he has quick hands and tremendous outlets. He plays the angles well and he plays the position well."

It's not the only position Cathers plays well. He was all-league as both a goalie and attackman at Corcoran (N.Y.) High School, where he finished his career fourth on the school's all-time scoring list with more than 240 points, Marr said. Cathers played on Albany's man-up unit in the fall, a move Marr used to employ with Queener. "We haven't made the switch yet," he said, "but it's certainly something we've thought of."

Cousins Miles and Ty Thompson were lauded as the steals of Albany's freshman class. They chose the Great Danes over Syracuse, the nation's top-ranked team and Albany's opponent Tuesday. The Danes' jaunt to Central New York and the Carrier Dome suddenly has intrigue, especially after the Orange struggled to put away Georgetown in overtime Saturday.

This game was not supposed to be on a Tuesday. Albany and Syracuse were originally supposed to play Saturday, April 3, but the Orange dropped the game when it was invited to play Duke in the Big City Classic at New Meadowlands Stadium.

"They went on to bigger and better things, I guess," Marr said with a hint of sarcasm. "Now they've got to play us on a Tuesday night after they almost lost to Georgetown. And they've got to play Hopkins on Saturday. We'll see how well they do now."

The schedule shuffle means the Great Danes will play their fourth game in 10 days. Marr gave players the day off Sunday to recuperate. Albany will likely be without its entire first midfield Tuesday after Brian Caufield (shoulder) and Rocky Bonitatibus suffered injuries against Ohio State. Derek Kreuzer, who was limited to nine games last year because of two knee injuries, did not play against the Buckeyes.

The game at the Carrier Dome will be a homecoming for Cathers and the Thompson cousins. Miles Thompson's brother, Jeremy, is an All-American midfielder and faceoff man for Syracuse. But Miles and Ty eschewed the Orange for the Great Danes, a decision that has had ripple effects on Albany recruiting, giving it a foothold in the Iroquois community. That includes Cathers, who hails from the Oneida Nation, and Miles' younger brother Lyle, a star player who will join the Great Danes next year.

Ty Thompson scored three goals in Albany's 11-9 upset of Ohio State on Saturday. Miles Thompson scored one behind his back. Cathers made clearing passes with his left and right hands. He can go behind the back, too.

Marr expects several more Native American players to join the program in the next few years.

"Just that [Thompson] name alone... created great buzz for us and helped open the lines of communication," he said.

A good showing this season would provide a certain measure of redemption for Marr, who expressed interest publicly in the coaching vacancy at Maryland, but never received a call.

Marr was an assistant coach and offensive coordinator for the Terps under legend Dick Edell. When Edell's successor, Dave Cottle, was fired last spring following Maryland's NCAA quarterfinal loss to Notre Dame, Marr's name surfaced fast in the hunt for Cottle's successor.

But the call never came. The university hired former Harvard head coach John Tillman in June.

"It was disappointing. I had talked to a lot of alums and it was just unfortunately a case that [former Maryland athletic director] Debbie Yow, Coach Edell and myself, when we were there, we really didn't get along very well," Marr said. "I don't think she felt a whole lot of love for me."

Yow left Maryland to become the new athletic director at N.C. State just nine days after hiring Tillman and a month after firing Cottle.

"You know what? Life works the way it works," Marr said. "We're certainly blessed to be here at Albany. We love the opportunity we were given here 11 years ago and we're doing our best to keep things rolling."

Weekend's Best


Stephen Keogh's game-winning goal in overtime came on a right-handed bounce shot. How un-Canadian of him.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

Player: Stephen Keogh, Syracuse

Keogh's fourth goal of the game lifted the top-ranked Orange to a 9-8 victory over Georgetown in the first game of the Face-Off Classic tripleheader. You could sense the relief in Syracuse's huddle after the game nearly slipped from its grasp. "Way to shoot, lefty," you could hear someone tell Keogh as ESPNU picked up the post-game huddle. It was a wisecrack, considering Keogh is a natural righty, but some opponents make the mistake of scheming him as they would a lefty.

Keogh's game-winner came on a right-handed bounce shot. How un-Canadian of him.

He gets the slight nod over Georgetown sniper Davey Emala, who had his second straight five-goal game despite missing practice time earlier in the week with pain in his left ribcage area.

Honorable mention: Davey Emala, Georgetown; Dean Gibbons, Harvard; Trevor Moore, Robert Morris; Cody Lehrer, Mount St. Mary's; Jack Rice, Villanova; Logan West, Navy; Ryan Flanagan, North Carolina; CJ Costabile, Duke; Mike Sawyer, Loyola.

Game: Drexel 8, Bryant 7 (4OT)

There were a few overtime affairs over the weekend, including Syracuse's win over Georgetown, Villanova's upset of Penn and Robert Morris over Detroit Mercy in a Canadian bacon-flavored shootout. But the nod goes to Drexel, which won on Kyle Bergman's tough-angled shot off a dodge from behind the cage in quadruple overtime. Beast Mark Manos made four saves in overtime.

Honorable mention: Syracuse 9, Georgetown 8 (OT); Villanova 9, Penn 8 (OT); Robert Morris 14, Detroit Mercy 13 (OT)

Quote: Rhamel Bratton, Virginia

"They were sliding right away. "I don't remember the call. It was something like 'fire,' and they were sliding right away trying to get the ball out of sticks. They did a good job of that during the course of the day. We had some opportunities that we didn't cash in on, definitely me myself. I felt like my stick was wasn't working for me so I had to change it toward the end. I think it worked out."

Both Rhamel and Shamel shook off visible frustration to play key roles in the Cavaliers' 11-9 victory over Cornell at the Face-Off Classic.


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