ALBANY — The season is close, and so is the conference.
At least that’s the opinion of the America East men’s lacrosse coaches, who are gearing up for the start of their respective seasons, which start as soon as this Saturday.
UAlbany finished second in preseason polling of the eight coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own teams, but Stony Brook, UAlbany, UMBC and Vermont were tightly bunched in the top half.
Stony Brook (44 points) received four first-place votes, and UAlbany (43) and UMBC (38) each received two, with the Catamounts not far behind at 35 points.
UAlbany head coach Scott Marr said his voting approach included going back to the 2019 season for reference, since everyone had their 2020 seasons cut short very early in the schedule by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I basically looked at what the rosters were there and read what’s coming back,” Marr said. “I’m sure these other guys brought guys back for that fifth year as well.
“I think it’s going to be very competitive, though, I really do. I think there’s four teams, maybe five, that can win it. Stony Brook, UMBC, Vermont, ourselves and then I think you can put UMass Lowell behind the four of us.”
The Great Danes players may profess to not assess much weight to the preseason polls, but if there’s some motivational value there, they’ll find it.
“I personally don’t ever believe anything of that type,” senior Tehoka Nanticoke said. “But I sent that poll to my classmates in a group chat we have just to let them know that it’s our time, it’s our year. I told the boys we have to do whatever we have to do to get back on top of the America East and then get our chance at the tournament.”
“We all saw that, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t really mean anything, even if you’re in first,” senior Alex Burgmaster said. “You still have to go out and play each game, we all know that.”
UAlbany was looking at a season opener against Drexel on Feb. 27, but now will play Lehigh. That game is tentatively set for Sunday, Feb. 21.
Marr is hoping some games can be rearranged to allow the Danes another week of practice and a return to Feb. 27 for the opener.