LOUDONVILLE — At this point last year, the enthusiasm around the Siena men’s lacrosse team was generated from a new coaching staff getting started trying to turn around the Saints’ program.
After making progress in that first year, Siena head coach Liam Gleason said his program has seen the benefits this fall from the foundation built during last spring’s 6-7 campaign, a season that saw the Saints double their win total from the previous year.
“It’s a huge difference being in Year 2,” Gleason said Wednesday. “We already have a base for the program with our new staff, and I’ve seen some great steps.”
The formal fall-ball portion of Siena’s year starts to come to a close this weekend, as the Saints host a three-team scrimmage Sunday at Hickey Field. Sunday’s action will see Siena play Le Moyne — a top Division II program — at 10 a.m., Le Moyne play Binghamton at noon and Siena play Binghamton at 2 p.m.
There’s more to the event, too, than lacrosse. Through a variety of means at the event, money will be raised Sunday to donate to “Vs. Cancer” and the Children‘s Hospital of Philadelphia; “Vs. Cancer” is a fundraising campaign of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.
“We wanted to tie something to it,” Gleason said. “If we’re all going to be here together, we wanted to make something good come from it.”
During the scrimmages, Gleason said Siena players will wear decals on their helmets with the initials of program alumni Colin Clive and Rob Ruggiero, each of whom is battling a form of cancer. Both former Saints are expected to be at the event.
Following Sunday’s scrimmages, Siena will start its final full week of fall-ball practices. While Siena lost to graduation its top-two scorers in Keenan Cook and Mike Reilly, and is still trying to figure out answers for “question marks” it has on offense, Gleason said the program has improved depth at the midfield and a number of intriguing options at attack to develop. Besides returning players from last season, the coach noted freshman Colin Gleason could start at attack, while several other freshmen are likely to compete for playing time. (Colin Gleason is not related to Liam Gleason, but the Siena head coach previously coached the freshman’s older brother Sean Gleason as an assistant at UAlbany.)
“We have more potential,” Liam Gleason said of his roster for 2020, “and we want to continue to try to reach it.”
After the program had three consecutive three-win seasons, last season’s 6-7 mark represented a step in the right direction. Gleason, though, said he has been more encouraged with the progress the program has made in building itself up away from the field.
“Doubling the wins from three to six, to me, that’s not that important. The progress we made off the field with our mentality and the culture we’re trying to bring here, that’s where we made the most progress. That’s our foundation,” Gleason said. “That’s what will lead us to being a MAAC champion, to being a contender. That’s tough to see from the outside, but that’s what we’re most proud of here.”