LOUDONVILLE — On Saturday, the Siena men’s lacrosse team gets to join the list of college teams that will play for the first time in close to 365 days.
The Saints haven’t seen the field in a real game since March 10, 2020.
They also haven’t seen their opponent, Canisius, in approximately two years.
So there are questions beyond the usual ones heading into a typical season opener, but head coach Liam Gleason is certain of one thing: Siena has some interesting depth throughout the roster that could benefit the Saints as they navigate the early stages of the season.
That season will start at 2 p.m. Saturday on Hickey Field against a team that went 0-6 during the shortened 2020 season.
“We’ve got a lot more maturity on the offensive end and a lot more experience with our systems. They’re jelling,” Gleason said Friday.
“I like where we’re at defensively with our depth. It’s young depth, but I like where we’re at. But as far as experience goes, you see it on our offensive end. “
Put it this way: If someone scored a goal during Siena’s 2-4 2020 season, there’s a good chance he’s going to be in a Saints uniform on Saturday.
The incoming freshman class is particularly going to have an impact on the defensive ranks, said Gleason, who expects Trevor Marsala to get substantial playing time right away, along with midfielder Jack Erb.
The competition at goalie among all five players at that position was so close that the coaching staff had to go deep into their list of tiebreakers beyond just stopping shots before they selected junior Chris Yanchoris, who will be seeing his first college game action beyond scrimmaging.
“It was a heated race,” Gleason said. “They all stop the ball at a high level, so we were looking for some intangibles. Who did the next thing best? Who communicated best with the defense? Who cleared the ball best? Who had the best IQ for different scenarios?
“With the possibility at certain times this year of losing guys, if I go down to my fifth goalie, I’ll tell you what, man, I’m not blinking an eye. I don’t think I’ve ever had that feeling. Usually you’ve got a starter and maybe a pretty good backup, and then there’s a level of dropoff. It makes it really tough on the staff. It made us evaluate a lot. We’ve had hours and hours of conversation on what we thought would be the thing that separated them.”
Because the Saints have been playing catch-up in terms of preseason preparation and haven’t scrimmaged, Gleason expects that Siena will be a work in progress not only in its first game, but over the course of the first few games.
“A game like this, where you don’t have any scouting opportunity, any film from previous games, you’ve got to roll with punches and make some changes in the game,” he said.
“We feel like we’re prepared to play this game on Saturday, but I’m certain that we’re going to learn some things that need to improve. This is our first go.”