ALBANY — One of Siena College head coach Abby Rehfuss’ first goals when she took over the Saints’ women’s lacrosse program prior to the 2018 season was to get the University at Albany back on the schedule.
Well into the second half of Saturday’s matchup, the first in several years between the local rivals, Siena challenged the Great Danes on their home turf. Eventually, though, UAlbany used its depth and speed to wear down the Saints to pull away for the 14-8 victory with a game-ending 7-0 run.
“It’s definitely a competitive, fun game,” said Rehfuss, whose program is winless in 16 all-time meetings with UAlbany. “I know the girls from both sides were really looking forward to today. We obviously wish that we had a better outcome, but we’re eager to get them back at Siena next year.”
Before Saturday’s matchup at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium, UAlbany and Siena had not met in women’s lacrosse since 2012. How often the neighboring schools have played one another varies from sport to sport, with the schools notably not agreeing to meet in basketball this past year.
“I thought it was pretty cool,” UAlbany sophomore Kyla Zapolski said of playing Siena. “It’s cool being able to play someone that’s really close to you. We knew that they were going to be a challenge.”
That proved true for much of Saturday’s contest. UAlbany ended the game on a 7-0 run, but the teams experienced five separate ties after the Great Danes scored the game’s first two goals. UAlbany (4-3) went ahead of Siena (3-4) for good after a score from junior Sam Tortora with 13:07 to go.
“I think it was just all of us calming down,” Tortora said of the Great Danes’ late-game run. “We have the talent to beat anybody, so we just all need to be on the same page. When we’re all on the same page, that’s exactly what happens.”
Zapolski led UAlbany with five goals, while Tortora had three goals and an assist. Junior Hannah Newman added three scores.
For Siena, sophomore Kerry Gerety had two goals and an assist, while redshirt freshman Kaitlyn Dowsett and freshman Mary Soures each scored twice.
“It was a really hard-fought game,” UAlbany head coach Katie Rowan said. “We knew that Siena was going to come out and play us really tough. I thought in the first half, their goalie [senior Sammy Horton] did a phenomenal job of really stepping to the ball, making some great saves, but I thought we made some great adjustments at halftime and had a great second half.”
Locally, Rehfuss and Rowan competed against each other in Section II high school games with Shaker and Bethlehem, respectively, during their playing careers. Rowan said the agreement was in place for UAlbany and Siena to resume playing one another before she was hired last June, but that she was happy to be a part of the rivalry series that expects to head to Siena’s home field next year.
“Glad to renew it and have that game today,” Rowan said.
“I think it’s good for the local community,” Rehfuss said of the programs matching up. “I think it’s good for the Capital Region. I think that we are sitting here, two great lacrosse programs, down the road from each other — and I think it makes sense to play.”
Siena 6 2 — 8
UAlbany 6 8 — 14
Siena scoring: Gerety 2-1, Soures 2-0, Dowsett 2-0, Brennan 1-1, Pelcher 1-0, Kmack 0-1, McNeely 0-1. UAlbany scoring: Zapolski 5-0, Tortora 3-1, Newman 3-0, Conway 1-3, Harbinger 1-2, Carroll 1-1, Clark 0-1.
Goalies: Siena, Horton, 14 saves. UAlbany, Schneidereith, 2 saves; Leghart, 2 saves.