LOUDONVILLE — For a little more than three weeks already, the Siena College women’s lacrosse team has conducted fall-ball practices, working to build off the momentum of last spring’s program-best season.
The team, too, has picked apples, hiked and run a 5K together.
In a lot of ways, those non-lacrosse activities have been more important for head coach Abby Rehfuss’ team.
“Essentially,” Rehfuss said Friday, a couple days before her team’s first fall-ball contests at Syracuse, “we have two different worlds colliding.”
While Siena won a program-record 12 games last spring and advanced to the MAAC championship game for only the second time, it did so with a roster small enough that the Saints didn’t have enough players to run full-field scrimmages during practices. For the 2020 season, Siena returns 17 players, but also adds 12 new players — 11 freshmen and one transfer.
“It’s been a rebuilding period. We’re trying to get all these freshmen incorporated into what we’ve been doing for the last year because we built quite a unit last year,” said Siena junior Kerry Gerety, who set a program record with 72 points last season. “So we want to incorporate them into what we’ve already learned.”
That’s on the field, and that’s important for the Saints to figure out — but Rehfuss said her team’s time spent bonding this fall semester is what’s most critical for the Saints. Throughout last spring, Rehfuss credited Siena’s improvement to her players’ cohesiveness. The success her Saints enjoyed in building strong relationships with one another last season is what Rehfuss has focused on with her new group.
“We talk about the things that made us a successful unit — the things that we did really well,” Rehfuss said. “The biggest things for us were our chemistry and our buy-in.”
Siena starts its fall-ball schedule Sunday with matchups against SUNY Cortland, Le Moyne and Syracuse.
“We’re excited to go play someone different from ourselves,” Gerety said. “It’s going to be good for our freshmen to play against other collegiate lacrosse teams. It’s going to be all new and different.”
Siena will use the maximum of five days to play fall contests. Each of its fall play days will see Siena take on multiple teams, and the Saints will host their own exhibition games on Oct. 12.
“This year, since we have a bigger roster, we want to play more games in one day,” said Rehfuss, whose team will compete in 15 separate matchups across its five days of action that ends with an Oct. 26 trip to Holy Cross.
For the 2020 season, Siena returns nearly all of its key contributors from last season. The only starters to graduate were Diana Bradbury and Sammy Horton, the latter of whom was last season’s top goalie in the MAAC.
Besides figuring out a replacement for Horton, Rehfuss said a key for the Saints during their fall-ball games is to start finding ways to involve their freshmen in their lineup. Already, Rehfuss said she’s confident the Saints have taken significant steps to make sure that happens away from the playing field.
“We’re really, right now, trying to bridge the gap between the new and old,” Rehfuss said.