ALBANY — It’s not an easy one to start with for the UAlbany women’s lacrosse team.
But, at this point, after the way the last year has played out, the Great Danes are simply excited to start.
“We’re very, very fortunate to be playing,” UAlbany senior Julia Imbo said earlier this week. “I’m so excited. We’re going to take on every opportunity to play, and we’re just excited. I feel like we have so much energy. We feel grateful to be here every single day.”
UAlbany only played five games last season before its season ended because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Its 2021 campaign starts 1 p.m. Saturday at Boston College, a squad that is also debuting this weekend. Boston College carries the No. 11 ranking in the media poll and No. 12 ranking in the coaches’ poll heading into the matchup.
UAlbany, picked to finish in second place in the America East Conference, returns a bevy of talent from a season ago, including four fifth-year seniors in Mara Bureau, Madison Conway, Jordyn Marr and Georgia Schneidereith who are utilizing the extra year of playing eligibility granted to them from the NCAA because of the cancellation of the bulk of the 2020 season. Head coach Katie Rowan Thomson’s squad lost its top scorer from last season in Sam Tortora, but the Great Danes return their next six highest scorers from last season.
Plus, UAlbany brings in seven freshmen that earned praise from both Rowan Thomson and the team’s veterans as a group that should offer immediate help to the program.
Conway, who scored seven goals in UAlbany’s abbreviated 3-2 campaign last year, said she sees “awesome potential” in the team’s freshmen, and expects several of them to contribute right away despite the strong core of veterans the Great Danes bring back for the 2021 season.
“With this class, specifically, everyone came in confident,” Conway said of the program’s freshmen.
Rowan Thomson is confident, too, in her squad. She likes the depth and experience of the group, and has been encouraged with how the Great Danes have grown since they got back to campus this month and worked through its preseason after a limited fall practice season.
“We really did have to get into it and see how the chemistry was building over these last few weeks with everyone together,” Rowan Thomson said. “We’re really excited about the growth and progress with that, and we’re looking forward to putting that together on Saturday.”
“Given the situation, with everything going on, I think we’re really ready,” Conway said. “But it’s exciting to see where we’re at once we play that first game.”
Boston College was 4-3 in games it played last season. This year’s team had three players selected as Inside Lacrosse Preseason All-Americans.
After its opening game, UAlbany is next scheduled to play its home opener Thursday against St. Bonaventure.