ALBANY — A short memory is a valuable part of a goalie’s mindset, but for UAlbany men’s lacrosse senior Nate Siekierski, the way the 2019 season ended — both for himself and the Great Danes — remains fresh in his mind.
Siekierski’s 2019 season, his first as the team’s starter in goal, ended in disappointment. Not only was UAlbany knocked from its perch atop the America East Conference, but Siekierski wasn’t even defending the cage when the season concluded, as a sprained ankle suffered as the result of him slipping in his apartment forced the goalie to miss the Great Danes’ conference tournament loss to Vermont.
As UAlbany opened practice over the weekend in preparation for the 2020 season, Siekerski was ready to move on from the bitter taste of 2019.
“It sucked, but, you know, that’s life. You can’t think back,” Siekierski said Sunday after practice at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium. “You’ve got to live in the present. As a goalie, when a shot goes in, you can’t think about it. You just have to get the next one. That’s the way I take it.”
UAlbany coach Scott Marr knew that watching last season end from the sidelines wasn’t easy on Siekierski.
“To stand on the sidelines and lose in that semifinal game, it eats at everybody,” Marr said. “Nate, as quiet as he is and as nice as he is, he’s a pretty competitive kid.”
Siekierski watched that loss to Vermont at Stony Brook from the sidelines as his backup, Will Ramos, made 10 saves in his first collegiate appearance.
It provided a strange sense of deja vu for Siekierski, who had been on the opposite side of the equation in both of the prior seasons when he was pressed into action in place of J.D. Colarusso in UAlbany’s 2017 NCAA quarterfinal loss to Maryland and its 2018 national semifinal loss to Yale.
As badly as Siekierski wanted to be on the field against Vermont, he said the experience will be invaluable for Ramos.
“I felt bad for Will, because I kind of threw him to the wolves,” Siekierski said. “But the way I think about it, it was just like my freshman and sophomore years. I played big-time games when we played Maryland in the quarters [in 2017] and Yale in the semifinals [in 2018] at Gillette [Stadium]. It’s good experience for him. It had to happen.”
With Siekierski back healthy, Marr is looking for the goalie to improve on a solid 2019 season in which he posted an 11.54 goals-against average and a .519 save percentage.
“He’s got a year under his belt, and a lot of the guys have a year under their belt,” Marr said. “Coming off the Final Four year, a lot of these kids hadn’t played in any of that stuff. Now, they’ve all played the competition that we play and we had a much, much better fall this year than we did the past year.”
From both fall practice and the first couple of sessions over the weekend, Siekierski sees a motivation in the Great Danes’ locker room to bounce back this season, which is scheduled to start Feb. 15 at home against Cornell. Another losing season, Siekierski said, won't be allowed.
“There’s no way we’re supposed to let the program get to that spot. This is Albany; we beat big-time programs," Siekierski said. "We knew that last year was just a fluke. Everybody has off years. Everybody, in every sport.”