April 16, 2015

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) Albany lacrosse player Lyle Thompson is the all-time leading scorer in Division I history, and his teammates are grateful to play with him.

Thompson leads the nation in scoring for the third straight year - 6.5 points per game - and earned the record Tuesday night with two goals and an assist in a tight 10-8 road win over Bryant.

''My points come to how the other team plays defense,'' Thompson said.

Thompson has 155 goals and 202 assists for 357 points, three more than the previous record of Cornell's Rob Pannell (150 goals, 204 assists for 354 points from 2009-13). Thompson needs 17 assists to match the all-time career assist record set in 1985 by Tim Nelson, who played at both North Carolina State and Syracuse.

Thompson is the only player in Division I history with two 100-point seasons. He's on pace for another with 32 goals and 46 assists.

''If they're going to slide to me, I'm going to feed the ball,'' he said. ''If they're not going to slide to me, I'm going to shoot the ball and score. I'm going to get my opportunities.''

Connor Fields knows he's a lucky guy every time he steps on the lacrosse field with Thompson. A freshman attackman, Fields ranks seventh in goal scoring in Division I at 3.25 goals per game (39 in 12 games), not far behind linemate Seth Oakes, a redshirt sophomore who's fourth at 3.50 (35 in 10 games).

''You just get in an open lane and Lyle finds you,'' Fields said. ''And when no one's open, he puts it in himself. Playing with someone like that takes a lot of pressure off yourself and your team.''

The 6-foot, 180-pound Thompson has a career scoring average of 5.7 points. With his array of shots and passes from all angles, the creative Thompson often renders goalies into spectators.

He had 51 goals and a record-tying 77 assists for a Division I record 128 points last season. That came after a 113-point sophomore year (50 goals, 63 assists), one point off the previous scoring mark set by UMBC's Steve Marohl (37 goals, 77 assists) in 1992.

The 22-year-old Thompson, who was born on a Mohawk Indian reservation in northern New York, is humble about earning the scoring record.

''Anything I can do to make my people proud makes me feel great, makes my community feel great,'' Thompson said. ''Same thing for the school. The school's done a lot for me. I guess it's my way of giving back.''

As the playoffs loom, the Great Danes (10-2) are ranked No. 8 and leading the nation in scoring for the third straight year. After posting the same number of goals in each of the previous two seasons (287 for a 15.94 average per game), Albany is averaging 17 goals in 2015. The defense has limited opponents to 10.33.

Albany's losses have come against upstate New York powerhouses Syracuse and Cornell. The Great Danes lead the America East Conference at 5-0 and will host the conference playoffs.

''We're just playing as a team, and that's what you need to win,'' Fields said.

Thompson leads the way with 32 goals and 46 assists despite sitting the equivalent of more than two games. When games get out of hand, he's on the bench, and Albany has these wins on its resume: 25-0 over Division I newcomer UMass-Lowell, 24-6 over Hartford, 20-10 over Vermont and 26-6 over Canisius.

''You have the best player in the world on your team and everybody else around him is playing very well,'' Albany coach Scott Marr said. ''This year, we're playing great defense and we're putting the ball on goal.''

The Great Danes have thrived despite losing Lyle's older brother Miles and cousin Ty Thompson, who finished their college careers at Albany last season. Together, the Native American trio had 174 goals and 126 assists in 2014. Lyle and Miles shared the Tewaaraton Trophy, the Heisman of lacrosse.

Against Bryant, Thompson saved his best for last with his team ahead by one goal. In the final minute and after a stall warning, he split the defense coming out behind the net and scored from the side of the cage on a one-handed shot with 6 seconds left on the shot clock.

''That's just Lyle being Lyle, using his skill level and his knowledge of the game to improvise,'' Marr said. ''It was another one of those times where he can pull something from nothing, make something happen.''

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