LOUDONVILLE — Two years ago, in its run to the program’s first-ever appearance in the MAAC tournament championship game, the Siena women’s lacrosse team defeated Canisius in the quarterfinals, then moved past Monmouth in the semifinals.
This year, one year after the MAAC postseason was canceled because of restrictions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Siena started its tournament run with a win against Canisius in the quarterfinals. That set up a semifinal matchup with — yup — Monmouth, and that 4 p.m. home game Thursday will be played after the Saints practiced Wednesday on their Hickey Field amid a steady rain.
And those rainy conditions Wednesday, Siena junior Mary Soures said, echoed those from two years ago, when the Saints prepared for that year’s semifinal with a rain-soaked practice the prior day.
Soures recalled that memory with a smile on her face.
“We’re all very superstitious,” Soures explained, “so it’s aligning well.”
Of course, Siena (No. 2 seed, 10-2 overall) has a variety of reasons to feel confident ahead of its matchup with Monmouth (No. 3, 8-4), and that collection goes beyond similarities to the Saints’ memorable campaign from a couple years ago when they finished as the league’s runner-up. As they look to clinch their spot in this year’s MAAC championship game, the Saints are on a seven-game winning streak, defeated Monmouth a couple weeks ago as part of that stretch and are coming off a win against Canisius that saw them score a MAAC tournament-record 21 goals.
“Obviously, we’re in the playoffs now and everybody is playing their best lacrosse, and we expect [Monmouth] to come out and have a strong showing,” Siena head coach Abby Rehfuss said. “That being said, I’m really confident with where our team is at. We’ve been practicing really well the past couple of days, and we’re playing well on both sides of the ball.”
Offensively, Siena has scored at least 13 goals in its last eight games. One of two teams in the country this season with five active 100-point career scorers, the Saints flirted with breaking their program’s single-game scoring record last game against Canisius, but came up a goal short after scoring 16 goals in the first half of its 21-11 win.
The second half of that game saw the Saints play even with Canisius. Starting goalie Ally Mervine was replaced midway through that second half in favor of sophomore Sabrina Krasner — who responded by stopping all four shots on goal she faced — after Canisius put together a 5-0 run in a stretch of six minutes, but Rehfuss said she will keep Mervine in the starting lineup for the semifinal matchup with a Monmouth club coming off a 15-goal effort.
“Still have all the confidence in the world in Mervine,” Rehfuss said, “and we’re excited to see how she does [against Monmouth].”
Siena topped Monmouth 13-12 when the teams met earlier this season. Since the start of the 2018 season, Monmouth and Siena have played four times, and three of those games were one-goal decisions and the other game was a two-goal decision.
“It’s always a competitive game with them,” Siena senior Emily Fiorillo said. “We know we have to come out strong and play our best lacrosse.”
To do that Siena, which lost the 2019 MAAC championship game in overtime, needs to keep its focus on its semifinal. Soures said “it’s hard not to think about Sunday,” when this year’s conference championship game will be played, but that the Saints know they cannot take anything for granted against Monmouth.
“We know how easily it is for a possession to go the wrong way, so we have to take it moment by moment and have the confidence that we can do it,” Soures said.