Division I men’s college lacrosse in the Capital Region has improved so much in the last few years that both the University at Albany and Siena College have solid shots at reaching the NCAA tournament this season.
UAlbany has made four NCAA tournament appearances in the last six seasons, and although Siena has yet to earn a berth in the big show, the Saints are coming off back-to-back 10-win seasons and could have their most talented group ever.
Siena opens the season tonight at 6 at perennial power and fourth-ranked Johns Hopkins, while UAlbany hosts Denver, which appeared in the NCAAs last season, Saturday at 1.
The Great Danes finished 4-1 in the conference, 8-8 overall, and lost to the University of Maryland Baltimore County, 14-13, in the America East Conference tournament championship game.
The Danes have won or shared four America East Conference regular-season titles, and also won the tournament championship game on four occasions, the last in 2007. But last season was a down one by comparison.
“It is easier to motivate when you are coming off underachievement than when you overachieve or achieve your goals,” said Albany head coach Scott Marr. “There are a lot of little things that sidetracked us. We are certainly working on correcting those.”
Albany has 28 lettermen and seven starters back, but Marr will also rely on a large sophomore class.
“Our biggest thing going forward with this group is that the attitude is unbelievable,” said Marr, who said his team will continue to play a fast-paced style.
Ranked 17th in the USILA coaches’ poll and 13th in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse rankings, the Danes are led by senior attackman Corey Small (34 goals, 11 assists), sophomore Brian Caufield (27-21-48), who was an all-conference first-team selection as a freshman, captain John Alpizar, a former attacker who moves back to the midfield and long-stick midfielder Chris Schongar (Shenendehowa).
The Danes added two newcomers who could impact the offense immediately in Dave Brock, who rolled up 115 goals and 67 assists as a two-time All-American at Herkimer County Community College, and freshman Joe Resitarits, the brother of former UAlbany All-American Frank Resitarits. Joe Resitarits piled up 463 career points at Hamburg High School.
Senior Dan McKeon gets his first opportunity as a full-time starter in goal.
Saturday — DENVER, 1; 25 — at Siena, 3.
6 — DELAWARE, 4; 10 — MASSACHUSETTS, 4; 14 — at Drexel, 3; 20 — at Princeton, 3; 28 — at Binghamton, 7.
1 — HARTFORD, 7; 4 — at Johns Hopkins, 12; 12 — UMBC, 1; 17 — at Syracuse, 7; 19 — at Vermont, 1; 26 — at Stony Brook, 7; 29 — America East Conference tournament, TBA.
2 — America East Conference tournament, TBA.
Home games in CAPS.
Siena, picked third in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference preseason poll, led the nation in defense a year ago, allowing opponents just 6.25 goals per game. The Saints, tied for fourth in the MAAC last year at 4-4, were 10-6 overall. They return 37 lettermen, including 18 seniors and 12 juniors.
“We’ve upgraded our schedule every year that I’ve been here,” said Siena head coach Brian Brecht. “Even though we didn’t make the MAAC playoffs last year because of a tie-breaker, I think we were better last season than the year before, and I believe we’re even better this year.
“We became the first MAAC team to defeat Harvard, and we had four one-goal losses in the league,” Brecht said. “On paper, we are deeper at every position. Hopefully, playing against a team like Johns Hopkins in our opener will be a great experience for the kids on this team. That game will be seen live on ESPNU, which will be a great boost for our program.”
Matt Girsch is the top returning scorer for the Saints. He had 32 goals and 11 assists a year ago. Other top returning scorers are Ryan Duggan (28-13-41), Chris
Zarins (19-12-31) and Kenny Mazzone (9-12-31).
Goalie Brent Herbst had a sparkling 6.07 goals-against-average with 153 saves in 15 games.
Tonight — at Johns Hopkins, 6; 25 — UALBANY, 3.
1 — Presbyterian, 12; 3 — LOYOLA (Md.), 1; 7 — STONY BROOK, 1; 14 — ST. JOSEPH’S, 1; 17 — ST. JOHN’S, 3; 21 — Hartford, 2:30; 28 — at Manhattan, 1.
4 — WAGNER, 2; 11 — at Virginia Military Institute, 1; 15 — CANISIUS, 3; 18 — MT. ST. MARY’S, 1; 22 — at Marist, 7; 25 — at Providence, 2.
1 — MAAC Championships, TBA; 3 — MAAC Championships, TBA.
Home games in CAPS.
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Categories: College Sports