COLONIE — If the answers were easy to find, University at Albany men’s lacrosse head coach Scott Marr would have them already.
But they’re not, so he doesn’t.
Not yet, at least.
“It’s a process for us this year,” Marr said after Wednesday’s practice indoors at Afrim's Sports. “This is not an instant-gratification team like we’ve been the last couple years. We’re going to have to work and we’re going to have to figure it out as we go along.”
After spending six weeks ranked No. 1 and making its first appearance in the national semifinals last year, UAlbany was unranked in this week’s polls for the first time since April 2014. That demotion came after a humbling 13-5 season-opening loss at Syracuse for the Great Danes, a game in which their offense struggled to generate meaningful possessions.
“Our concern right now is putting the ball in the back of the goal,” said Marr, whose program has long thrived as an offensive powerhouse. “That’s our biggest concern.”
Against Syracuse, Marr searched for answers as an aggressive Orange defense focused its attention on sophomore star Tehoka Nanticoke who still scored two goals. Notably, Marr moved junior Jakob Patterson from attackman to offensive midfielder for large portions of the game, instead opting to have freshmen Teioshontathe McComber and Corey Yunker play alongside Nanticoke.
“We really are just trying to find the right chemistry and the right people to play,” said Marr, whose team plays Saturday at Drexel.
UAlbany’s five goals scored last Saturday at the Carrier Dome represented a worse output than in any game from a season ago. Perhaps more alarming than the lack of goals scored, though, was how much UAlbany simply struggled to generate shots; Syracuse outshot UAlbany 28-12 in the first half and 48-34 for the game.
“It was a lot of learning. There were definitely growing pains,” McComber said. “We’re learning as we go and building chemistry. That’s the biggest thing for us, but we’re working. We’re grinding.”
McComber was one of several UAlbany freshmen to debut last weekend, while a number of Great Danes sophomores and juniors played significant minutes for the first time in their college careers. UAlbany senior Matt Perla, a returning starting defenseman, said the Great Danes should be more comfortable playing at Drexel after getting first-game jitters out of the way.
“The biggest thing is knowing how mentally focused you have to be throughout the whole game,” Perla said.
Drexel is 1-1 on the season, while UAlbany wants to leave this upcoming weekend with a 1-1 mark.
“I can’t say it enough: This team is a work in progress,” Marr said. “We feel good about the pieces we have, we just have to find the right places to put them and then start to grow as a team as the season goes along.”