LOUDONVILLE — Anthony Tebbano won the starting goalie job for the Siena men’s lacrosse team as a freshman, only to cede his spot in the cage for most of 2019.
With the 2020 season a little more than two weeks away, Tebbano is taking charge of a wide-open competition to earn the starting spot in goal for the Saints.
Saints lacrosse coach Liam Gleason said Thursday that Tebbano had emerged as the team’s likely No. 1 goalie and that the junior will get the start Saturday at 10 a.m. when Siena scrimmages UAlbany at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium.
“He’ll definitely be starting Saturday,” Gleason said following practice at Hickey Field.
Tebbano started 10 games as a freshman in 2018, but appeared in just four games last season as Aaron Lewis took over the starting job. With Lewis gone to graduation, the spot was up for grabs yet again with Tebbano, Eric Cecere, Christopher Yanchoris and Johnny Caponi all vying for the spot.
Through the fall and the early stages of spring practice, Tebbano has relished the competition.
“It makes practice fun, honestly. We’re always pushing each other to grab that starting spot,” Tebbano said.
Tebbano has emerged as the favorite to get the start when the season opens Feb. 8 against LIU Post, thanks not only to his shot-stopping ability, but his continued development as a quarterback for the Siena defense.
“There’s so much that goes into that position,” Gleason said. “It’s having a big presence down there, and I think Anthony’s done a great job this fall into the spring at developing that presence — and he’s done a great job stopping the ball.”
POWER OF POSITIVITY
Gleason is entering his second season as Siena’s head coach, after posting a 6-7 overall record and a 3-4 mark in MAAC play in 2019, and his players are embracing the coach’s mantra of relentless positivity.
“He brings in the same culture, same attitude every day,” junior midfielder Dylan Pantalone said. “He preaches positivity at all times. I think a lot of the guys last year were not all the way bought into it, but this year it’s positive, positive, positive.”
Among the most important facets of Gleason’s philosophy, junior midfielder Nick Pepe said, is refusing to be bogged down by mistakes.
“Having that ‘next play’ mentality, you’re going to get the next play,” Pepe said. “That dropped pass might turn into a goal or an assist to a teammate.”
NO TIME TO WASTE
The three-week period between the start of spring practice last Friday and the Feb. 8 opener is the quickest turnaround Gleason has seen in his coaching career.
More than anything, it meant the Saints had to come back from their winter break already in peak condition — physically and mentally.
“We get our guys in excellent shape by December, and then they go home for a month and enjoy the holidays,” Gleason said. “Coming back in shape was a huge emphasis for us to have success right away. … This year, having three weeks, we don’t have the time to just get in shape. We had to come back ready to go. ”
So far, it seems like the Saints took Gleason’s message to heart.
Pepe said players are getting in extra skill work after practice, while also dedicating extra time to lifting and conditioning work.
“There’s a buy-in from all the guys. It’s seniors down to freshmen,” Pepe said. “All these guys are grinding, and it’s really exciting to see.”
There’s also been an increased emphasis in film study. Gleason said his coaching staff put together plenty of “homework” for the players over the break, and it was readily devoured.
“Guys have really been crushing film,” Pantalone said.
The graduation of attackmen Keenan Cook and Mike Reilly, who combined for 235 career points, promises a new-look offense for Siena this season. Jack Kiernan returns to start at attack, with freshman Colin Gleason — no relation, Liam Gleason pointed out — also locking down a starting spot. Junior Nick Casner and sophomore George Rusnak will both see time at the third spot.
“I think we’re doing some really good things with it,” Liam Gleason said. “I’m excited to see how we look on Saturday vs. Albany.”