NCAA lacrosse: Morr, Saints battle Orange

Siena junior goalie Tom Morr comes from a strong gene pool, and he knows what it’s like to hang arou
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Siena junior goalie Tom Morr comes from a strong gene pool, and he knows what it’s like to hang around some of the premier athletes in the country.

“I don’t get star-struck by anybody,” said Morr.

That’s good news for the Saints, because Morr will play a key role when they visit top-ranked Syr­acuse University tonight at 7:30 in the opening round of the NCAA Div­ision I Lacrosse Championship at the Carrier Dome. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

Both of Morr’s grandfathers were stellar athletes. One grand­father, Bill Saar, played major league baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers and was also an NBA referee. The other grandfather, Ed Morr, was captain of the Hofstra basketball team in 1952-53.

“My mom’s dad was an NBA referee, and he would take me to NBA games all the time,” Morr said. “After that, he was still very close to all the NBA refs, so we able to get into a lot of the games and meet all the players.”

Morr, an excellent all-around athlete himself, played four years of varsity lacrosse and football at Chaminade High School.

He chose Siena because his sister, Emily, was already a student on the Loudonville campus, and he wasn’t thrown off by the fact that the Saints already had an All-American goalie in Brent Herbst.

“I definitely realized when I came here that everybody, including the media, was looking at me to become the replacement of a two-time All-American, but Brent was just a teammate to me. We joked around, and we were competitive all the time,” Morr said. “We always had a competition as to who was better in practice every day. I wasn’t in awe of him. We were good friends.”

“We felt Brent Herbst and Tom Morr weren’t No. 1 and No. 2 on our team, but rather No.1 and No. 1A,” said Siena head coach Brian Brecht. “That’s why we decided to red-shirt him last year. He’s worked very hard to get where he is today, and that doesn’t come by just spending the time in practice. He spent the time out of practice, too.”

Morr sat out his junior campaign as a redshirt so he would have two years of starting instead of one. But Morr’s transition to starting goalie in place of Herbst wasn’t as smooth as the Saints’ coaching staff had hoped, because of a severe knee injury suffered last summer.

“I tore my ACL last July, and I wasn’t optimistic that I would be able to come back and take the starting job,” said Morr, a 6-foot-2, 185-pounder.

“I finished rehabbing the knee back home [in Rockville Centre], and then I started rehabbing it again up here. I felt my muscles getting stronger, but I didn’t get back in goal until I came back to campus again in January. That was a real exper­ience for me, because nothing felt the same. I didn’t feel right. I kept pushing off the wrong leg. I was using my strong leg to push off, and I didn’t feel comfortable at all in the net. I wasn’t focused on the ball, and the first couple of weeks were rough for me.”

Siena’s first three opponents were powerhouses: Duke, Air Force and Johns Hopkins.

“The Duke game was very tough for me, and then we played Air Force and Hopkins. It wasn’t until the fourth game, against Hartford, that I felt like I was on the right track and was myself again,” Morr said. “That was a tough schedule, looking back at it now, but maybe it was all for the better, especially when you look at who we are playing.”

“I wasn’t that concerned,” said Brecht. “If Tom was a player in the field, then there might have been more concern about him coming back from an injury, but we felt he was right there. He was fifth in the country in save percentage. He’s certainly on the right track to be an All-American for us next year.”

Morr, who led the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with an 8.34 goals against-average and a .598 save percentage, said he respects the Orange, but he is not afraid of them.

“Anytime you get an opportunity like this and an experience like this, you have to take full advantage of it,” he said. “You can’t get any higher in the country than No. 1. When you look at their team, you really don’t find any weak spots”

Morr said he helps to neutralize pressure by sticking to his rout­ine.

“There’s definitely a lot of pressure in a game like this. I’m sure both the quantity and the quality of shots will be much better than against a MAAC team or a mid-level team. But I’ve got to approach it like every other game. Even though there is more pressure, it’s just another game to me, and that’s why I stick to my routine.

“I just like to keep everything the same so my mind doesn’t wander. It’s not crazy, but I like to keep things in the same order. I get to the locker room to get changed, and then I see our trainer to get taped up. I go outside about an hour and 20 minutes before the game and throw the ball around. With about 55 minutes to go, I stretch and get warmed up. It’s just a game I play with myself to keep a good rout­ine.”

Morr will be the anchor for the 13-4 Saints, who are ranked 20th in the country.

Bryan Neufeld (40 goals, 25 assists), Danny Martinsen (30 goals 22 assists), Chris Roth (29 goals, 14 assists), John Rogener (19 goals, nine assists), Colin Clive (22 goals, 5 assists) and Chris D’Alberti (15 goals 10 assists) each have 25 points or more for the Saints.

Syracuse (14-1) has won five nat­ional championships (2000, 2002, 2004, 2008 and 2009) under current head coach John Desko and 11 overall.

The balanced Orange are spearheaded offensively by Stephen Keogh (32 goals, seven assists) JoJo Marasco (19 goals, 17 assists), Tommy Palasek (14 goals 14 assists), Jeremy Thompson (16 goals, 12 assists), Josh Amidon (14 goals, 11 assists, Jovan Miller (12 goals, 11 assists) and Tim Desko (16 goals 19 assists).

Goalie John Galloway has a 6.95 goals against-average and a .563 save percentage.

“When you re No. 1 in the coaches and media polls, it’s rare that you can find a weakness on your team,” said Brecht. “They are talented, and they are definitely the best team in the country. But we’re going to do what we do well. We don’t have to be better than they are for a full season, just one game.”

Categories: College Sports

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