ALBANY — The UAlbany men’s lacrosse team will head into its season opener on Saturday without 11 of its players, including star attack Tehoka Nanticoke, because they’re in COVID-19 quarantine.
Head coach Scott Marr on Wednesday said that if all goes well as the players come out of quarantine in the next few days, the Great Danes should have their full complement of players available for the start of America East play on March 6.
But for Saturday’s noon game at home against Colgate, UAlbany will be substantially shorthanded, especially on offense.
Besides Nanticoke, who was picked USILA preseason All-American honorable mention, Marr said the quarantine group also includes Ron John, Graydon Hogg, Darien LaPietro, Danny Mastropaolo and defenseman Will Pepe.
Marr said that all of the players who tested positive for COVID-19 recently did so for the first time, and some who had previously tested positive and were in contact with the first-timers were outside the 90-day window in which they weren’t required to quarantine.
“The guys who have gotten it and they’re not in their 90-day window, they have to quarantine because of the rules,” he said. “But none of the guys who got it in the fall and are in quarantine now are getting it for the second time.
“If everything goes well, four guys are getting out at 12:01 tonight [Wednesday], then four more on Friday and then three more probably on Monday. So as long as their cardiac tests go well for the guys who have tested positive, those guys should all be in the lineup and be ready to play next Saturday.”
With a large chunk of the roster sidelined, the Colgate game will provide an opportunity for some lesser-used players and freshmen to get valuable game experience.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to get a Camden Hay, a Logan Tucker, Joe Pezzimenti, give them some playing time,” Marr said. “Elijah Gash is new, Jack Peterson hasn’t played a lot since he came here, so these guys getting some playing time, I’m not saying we’re treating this as a scrimmage, but it’s a non-conference game.
“We haven’t played in almost a year, so we’re looking at it as let’s just get out and get some film on ourselves against somebody else. Do our best, obviously, we want to win the game, we’re not just playing for fun, but it will be a good day to get a lot of guys who might not have been playing, to get them some experience.”
Because much of UAlbany’s offensive talent won’t be available, Marr said the Great Danes will have to manufacture some goals, and take full advantage of man-up situations and turnovers.
Next week, they’ll also need to ease the players coming out of quarantine back into action carefully, since they will have been out of practice for 10 days and might have a higher risk of injury.
“We’re certainly following every protocol that they’re giving us,” Marr said. “We’re staying by ourselves, we’re eliminating interaction with people around campus. Guys are wearing their masks where they’re supposed to.
“You have NBA, NHL, all these professional leagues that have millions of dollars in bubbles, and guys are still getting it. It’s a highly contagious disease or virus. It’s no fault of their own. Nobody wants to get it. Thirty of them got it in the fall, and now 11 of them got it in the spring.
“Who knows where they get it from, who knows where they pick it up. That’s the way it goes. We’re disappointed that they’re not playing, but we’ll get them back and be ready to go when we do get them back.”
The Great Danes were supposed to have opened the season last weekend at Lehigh, but Lehigh backed out because its roster had been depleted by COVID and injuries, and the team had also lost too many practice days to be sufficiently ready for a game.
The UAlbany women’s team had its season opener against Boston College last Saturday postponed because of a positive COVID-19 test result among its Tier 1 personnel.
The Great Danes were able to reschedule it for Tuesday, when they lost to BC 22-12. With games against St. Bonaventure on Thursday and Colgate Sunday, the UAlbany women have three games in a span of six days.