LOUDONVILLE — Three wins, one in conference play.
Through five games, that combination is what the Siena College men’s lacrosse team has accomplished this year. It’s only a modest success, sure, but it means something more to a program that only recorded that combination in the entirety of its 2018 season. As a program, Siena has not won more than three games in a season since 2015 when it went 5-9.
“So, for us, it’s still a process of getting better every day,” Siena head coach Liam Gleason said earlier this week of his team’s focus. “We’re trying to buy into that process, and that we always have to get better.”
Through Gleason’s first five games as the Saints’ head coach, Siena has done that — particularly on the defensive end. While the Siena offense has played well in each of the team’s games, the Saints’ defense has started to come together after a rough opening three games in which Siena allowed seven goals in each first quarter.
“But we always showed such resilience in those first three games,” said Gleason, who served as an assistant coach for the last eight seasons at the University at Albany. “We fought back.”
Heading into Saturday’s 1 p.m. home game at Hickey Field against MAAC foe Manhattan, Siena has recorded wins against UMass Lowell, St. John’s and St. Bonaventure. The Saints’ losses have come against Hobart and Fairfield.
While Siena has worked to figure itself out on defense, its offense has paved the way for the team’s strong start. At 15.6 goals per game, Siena ranks fourth in the nation in scoring. Leading Siena’s offense has been senior Keenan Cook with 15 goals and 11 assists, and senior Mike Reilly with 16 goals and five assists.
“We’ve had a lot of assisted goals and I’ve liked the tempo we’ve played with,” said Gleason, whose team has assisted 47 of 78 goals. “They’re all really sharing the ball.”
Each game, Gleason said, the Saints have made some type of improvement. Against St. Bonaventure in Tuesday’s 17-10 win, that improvement came on faceoffs; the Saints won 21 of 30 faceoffs against St. Bonaventure after winning 50 of 131 in their first four games.
“We’ve set a new standard,” Gleason said, “and we have to play up to that every game.”
Last year, Siena’s lone conference win came against Manhattan in the Saints’ regular-season finale.
“So I’m sure some of the guys on their team want to avenge that loss,” Gleason said. “For us, though, it’s not about last year. It’s just about putting 60 minutes together.”