Siena’s men’s lacrosse team has been there and done that, in terms of winning Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships.
Now it’s time to step up to another level.
The Saints, who lost in the MAAC tournament championship game last year to cap off an 8-9 campaign, return nine of their top-10 scorers, five starters and 35 letterwinners. They have played for the MAAC crown five consecutive seasons — including titles in both 2009 and 2011 — but they want more than just a league title.
“There’s quite a bit of expectations here, but there are two across the whole locker room,” said junior midfielder Conor Prunty, the MAAC preseason Player of the Year. “We want to win that championship first, and then we really want to win a first-round game in the NCAA tournament. We haven’t been able to do that. We want to do a better job of closing out teams. Last year, we were up six goals at halftime in the MAAC championship game, and we let it slip away. We need to put the fork in teams when we are leading.”
Siena opens the season at 7 tonight at Syracuse. The Orange enter the game ranked No. 1 nationally in the USILA Coaches’ Poll.
Siena, chosen as the favorite to win the MAAC this year, has plenty of scoring punch returning. Prunty scored 31 goals and added 19 assists to finish third in the league last year, but he’ll have plenty of help from senior attack Colin Clive (33 goals, 13 assists), and Richie Hurley (30-19).
“Across the board, we have a veteran group,” Prunty said. “We all realize what is at stake. I don’t foresee any problems with leadership. I think this is a big opportunity for us. It’s a chance to grow Siena’s name in the sport. Our thought is, why not us?”
Siena head coach John Svec likes his team, but he knows the Saints still have some work to do.
“We’re excited about the opportunity in front of us. We have a lot of guys coming back,” he said. “We also have some new faces who are stepping up and making it pretty tough to keep them off the field. I’m excited, but we have a lot of work to do.”
Svec has plenty of offensive firepower, but this year, he also has four goalkeepers who each wants to play major minutes.
“We definitely have four pretty good goalies, and three of them have game experience. Any one of them could play, but we’ll make a determination who it will be. We started Kenny Carpenter in our exhibition game, and split time with Tom Cordts, but the other two guys [Tyler Lutien and Nick Capalbo] are good, also. They each have different styles.
“We will know where we are after the next couple of days. We try to schedule teams like Syracuse in the beginning of the season. It’s a great test and a good barometer of where we are and where we can get to. We’ll find out how good we are about 9 p.m. [tonight].”
Tonight — at Syracuse, 7; Saturday — at Hobart, 1; 22 — at Binghamton, noon.
1 — at St. John’s, 1; 8 — at Hartford, 1; 12 — ROBERT MORRIS, 3; 15 — MARIST, 1; 22 — MONMOUTH, 1; 29 — CANISIUS, 3.
5 — at Hofstra, 7; 12 — at Detroit, noon; 19 — at Quinnipiac, noon; 22 — at UAlbany, 7; 26 — at Manhattan, 7.
Home games in CAPS.story>