If there’s such a thing as a reverse-Samson at the hair salon, Scott Marr hopes he got one.
The UAlbany men’s lacrosse head coach showed up for his weekly Zoom conference on Wednesday with a fresh cut — “Just a change,” he said.
“We’ve had so much going on the last couple weeks, I just felt like, energy-wise and mojo-wise, it was time to cut it and just move on.”
What the Great Danes are trying to move on from is the dismissal of star attack Tehoka Nanticoke, and they’ll do so this week by moving headlong into what should be a highly motivated Syracuse team hungry to shake off two straight losses that dropped the Orange from No. 2 in the country to No. 9.
UAlbany (3-2 America East, 5-2 overall) and Syracuse (1-2 ACC, 4-3 overall) will face off at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Carrier Dome in the 19th meeting between the teams, most recently a 13-5 SU win in 2019.
In a 17-6 win over UMass Lowell last week, the first since Marr kicked Nanticoke off the team “based on internal issues,” the Great Danes were 12-for-12 on assisted goals while building a 12-4 lead before finishing 13-for-17.
Marr has used wins over Colgate and UMass as a reference point on how he wants his offense to play, and perhaps it’s no coincidence that Nanticoke missed the Colgate season opener due to COVID-19 protocols and UMass because of a one-game suspension by the America East for a multi-player fight against Binghamton.
“I do like the way this team plays together,” he said. “In our bigger wins on the season, Colgate and UMass, against two quality opponents, 10 out of 13 assisted goals against UMass and I think it was 11  out of 15 against Colgate. To continue that trend would be great.”
One change in the wake of the Nanticoke dismissal was moving Graydon Hogg from midfield to attack.
He scored five goals in the first half and finished with six against UMass Lowell, earning AE Offensive Player of the Week.
“We moved Graydon to attack last week to get some stability,” Marr said. “He played attack in 2020, so he’s used to that spot. But he gave us a good, solid finisher. That’s what he did the other day. He had six goals, and I think he shot the ball probably three or four different ways.”
“You know, they’re doing OK [without Nanticoke],” Syracuse had coach John Desko said. “We’re really focusing on the last film, with him not there, because we want to see what the difference is, especially for our defensive coordinator. It’s a good group. [Jakob] Patterson, [Logan] Tucker, Hogg has picked up the slack a little bit, the middies are playing well.”
“I think sometimes when you have a guy that carries the ball that much, you kind of rely on him,” Syracuse defensive midfielder Peter Dearth said. “And then when you take him out of the picture, you kind of see more of a team-oriented offense.”
One area to watch is the faceoff X, where UAlbany could have an advantage based on recent results.
Great Danes freshman Regan Endres has embraced the extra work since Anthony Altimari was injured, and is coming off his best game, 18-for-26 against Lowell.
Desko, meanwhile, is searching for consistency at that position.
The Orange won just eight of 32 in a 15-14 loss at Duke on March 25 and just nine of 32 in an 18-11 loss to Notre Dame at the Dome last week. SU was up 6-2 on the Irish early before being outscored 16-5 the rest of the way, so the Great Danes are bracing for an angry opponent looking to take out its frustration on the team from up the road.
“I definitely anticipate them coming out and trying to force their will on us and try to bully us around a little bit,” Marr said. “But we’ve played this team before, so we’re not so easily intimidated.”
“Either way, they’re going to come out flying no matter what,” UAlbany senior Kyle Casey said. “We play them every year. It’s a big game for both of us, and there’s always a lot of energy and a lot of hype.”
Under New York state guidelines, the Dome, which is in the midst of $118 million in renovations to be completed next year, including the roof, is allowed to let a maximum of 900 COVID rapid-tested students through the doors for lacrosse games. So even though it won’t be the same as a typical Syracuse game, there will be some crowd presence.
“My first college game was at the Dome, and I wasn’t playing, but the atmosphere was unreal,” Casey said. “Playing at the Dome, that’s stuff you dream about. No matter what, it’s still going to be a high-intensity game.”
“It’s the Dome; I’m guessing it’s going to be loud,” said UAlbany freshman Camden Hay, who is from Victor an hour up the Thruway and has been to “countless” SU games. “It’s probably not going to be like usual, but it’s still going to be electric. But, yeah, I’m going to get chills walking out there.”
“It brings out a tremendous competitive spirit on our side, for sure,” Marr said. “For them, I think they might get a little lackadaisical thinking we’re coming from the America East, but for the most part for the last seven or eight years, it’s just a highly competitive game. It’s a fun game. For a long time, people have put this on their calendar as a game to watch because we both play a faster style.”
With some fans in attendance, Marr said he expects to be heckled, but it probably won’t be for his own newly renovated dome.
“I was going to keep the mullet,” he said with a chuckle. “See, you cut the sides first and then it’s pretty long in the back, and I kind of looked like Joe Dirt. I don’t think my wife will like this. Cut it all off. Start from scratch.
“But thank God it’ll grow back.”
QUINNIPIAC 7, SIENA 5
The Siena men continued to struggle on offense, and the Saints’ tendency to lose close games remained firmly in play, too.
Niskayuna graduate Dylan Pantalone scored the first goal of the game for Siena, but Quinnipiac scored five of the next six goals and held the Saints in check the rest of the way.
Siena fell to 0-5 overall and 0-4 in the MAAC, and has been outscored by a total of eight goals in the five games.
It didn’t help that the Saints managed to win just one of 15 faceoffs. The Bobcats also had a 35-15 advantage in ground balls.
Siena 1 1 1 2 — 5
Quinnipiac 2 0 3 2 — 7
Siena scoring: Lantieri 1-0, Menniti 1-0, Pantalone 1-0, Rusnak 1-0, Watts 1-0, Habich 0-1, Gleason 0-1, Kiernan 0-1. Quinnipiac scoring: DeLucia 2-0, Miller 2-0, Demitri 1-0, Perry 1-0, D. Donnery 1-0, Casey 0-1, R. Donnery 0-1, Boss 0-1.
Goalies: Siena, Yanchoris, 11 saves. Quinnipiac, Dimuccio, 16 saves.