Taking over a women’s lacrosse program, in the Northeast-10 Conference, that began in the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season is sort of like trying to grow a tropical plant in the desert.
But that’s what UAlbany great Sarah Martin did at The College of Saint Rose, and look what’s blooming now.
The Golden Knights, who finished 1-11 last year in Martin’s first season, reached a benchmark by defeating their first Division II-ranked opponent — New Haven, 18th at the time — 9-8 on March 26. They turned even more eyes their way last Saturday by defeating then-16th-ranked Bentley, 16-15.
Like any growing program, there will be hiccups, and Tuesday night’s 21-10 loss to No. 16 Stonehill was one of them. Saint Rose, however, is 3-3 in the conference and 7-3 overall.
“There have definitely been many challenges,” Martin said by phone, “but I think the girls have a really good mindset this season.”
The roster looks as one might expect with one junior, 17 sophomores and four freshmen. Martin said that the team gained valuable college-level lacrosse experience last year that has helped this season, with things like speed of the game and situations.
In its two wins over ranked teams, Saint Rose showed necessary attributes of quality teams: the ability to rally and the ability to sustain a close lead. New Haven led 7-4 with 6:19 to go in the third quarter and Saint Rose led Bentley 12-9 after three quarters, but never allowed the game to be tied despite Bentley’s rally.
“I’ve known they can do it,” said Martin, a 2017 graduate of UAlbany, where she was named America East Midfielder of the Year and was a Tewaaraton Trophy nominee her senior year. “I think it was more of a celebration for them to know that we can consecutively beat ranked teams and be competitive against stronger teams. And that’s going to be important because we definitely have a challenging second half of the season.”
Because of the team’s relatively small numbers, Martin has participated in practices to help her team for its next contests, so the Golden Knights have certainly benefited from that also. It has also helped the players with something Martin wants to develop.
“They saw me as a young professional from the start, but I also want them to feel free to speak up and say something if they’re seeing it differently than I do so we can create a better dialogue,” Martin said. “I don’t have an assistant coach this year, so their ability to do that has helped us.”
UNION MEN SHARP ON THE ROAD
To paraphrase Zac Brown Band, the Union men’s lacrosse team plays the road.
The Dutchmen earned their fourth win over a nationally ranked team — all away from home — Wednesday with a 13-12 victory over Saint John Fisher. They’re 10-0 for the first time in program history, and most likely only had the 202-mile trip back to Schenectady to enjoy it before turning their attention to another Rochester-area powerhouse: defending Division III champion RIT, whom it will play at the Tigers’ campus on Saturday.
Union is ranked third in both Division III national polls, and has played six of its 10 games on the road. By comparison, No. 1 Salisbury has only had two road games out of its 11, with one being a win over nationally ranked York. No. 2 Christopher Newport has earned five top-20 wins, with one away and two at a neutral site.
Union’s season most likely will go down in the history books as one of its most difficult ever. This week, three other Liberty League teams are ranked, two more received votes in the USILA poll and five of Union’s non-league opponents are ranked or received votes in the USILA poll. Also, though not in the polls this week, opponent Babson had been previously ranked.
With its win over New Hampshire on Wednesday, the UAlbany women are 3-0 in America East. It puts them tied for first in the league, percentage-wise, with Stony Brook, but the Seawolves are ineligible for the league tournament because of the school’s decision to leave the conference for the Colonial Athletic Association after this academic year.
The America East Tournament semifinals are May 5 at the higher-seeded sites, with the championship set for May 7.
Siena men’s goalie Christopher Yanchoris was named MAAC Defensive Player of the Week and selected to the USILA Division I Team of the Week for his brilliant 21-save, one-goal-allowed effort against Monmouth on Saturday. The senior now ranks third among the top goalies in the country in saves per game (15.30) and fourth in save percentage (.588)
SUNY Cobleskill freshman goalie John Williams was named the North Atlantic Conference’s Defensive Player of the Week for the second straight week. Williams made 22 saves, for a .759 save percentage, in the Fighting Tigers’ 15-7 win over Cairn. He ranks 17th in the nation in save percentage at .655.