Stringing Sticks: UAlbany men’s lacrosse hopes platoon pays dividends

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The movie, “Platoon”, was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won four.

If the UAlbany men’s lacrosse team gets results like that from its platoon system, there will be a lot of smiles from the Great Danes.

According to coach Scott Marr and senior attackman Jack Pucci, the coaches and returning players worked together to implement a platoon system when everyone arrived on campus in the fall.

“You know, we left last year feeling like we had a little bit of business left on the table, and kind of a sour taste in our mouth,” Pucci said Wednesday. “And we wanted to carry something from last year and not just leave it behind us. But we just wanted to let that resonate with the younger guys. We thought that that was a great way to do it, by showing them how hard we’re going to work. You know, you can work as much as you want in silence. But once you show the younger guys how much it means to you, I think it means that much more.”

“It was a competition,” Marr explained. “We split the team up into four groups. And basically, between academics, weightlifting, extra work, community service, they get different points for doing different things. And it was a good competition. They did a really nice job of leading as leaders. But it’s one of those things where he mixed the [years] and you’ve got guys doing different things with different people than they would normally do. So it was a great way for us to kind of come together a little bit more than we have in the last couple of years.”

The prize for the winning team was a dinner at Marr’s house. Pucci, part of the winning team, smiled broadly as he recalled it.

“Steak, chicken, potatoes — Mrs. Marr cooked it,” he said. “It was wonderful.”

SIENA WOMEN PICKED IN TIE FOR 2ND

The Siena women’s lacrosse team was picked to finish tied for second in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in the league coaches’ preseason poll.

The Saints finished 6-2 in the league last season, 10-8 overall and reached the semifinals of the league tournament. In the poll, Siena got 68 points, including one first-place vote. Defending champion Fairfield got 78 points and seven first-place votes, while new full-time member Mount St. Mary’s — which won the NEC the last two seasons — tied with Siena with 68 points and one first-place vote.

The Saints’ Mary Soures and Jenna Colabufo also were named to the preseason all-MAAC team. Soures, a fifth-year senior, was unanimously selected as the preseason all-MAAC player of the year. She led the league last season in goals per game at 4.36, had 61 goals (a single-season record) and was named to the All-MAAC Second Team. Colabufo, a senior defender, made the All-MAAC Second Team last year.

LOOK AT REMAINING TEAMS

Last week, I examined what the UAlbany men looked like on paper. With the other three local Division I teams starting their seasons between Saturday and Thursday, let’s do the same for them.

The Siena men open their season Saturday at home vs. NJIT. The Saints reached the league tournament semifinals last season, and they should get at least there again. Notable returners are fifth-year senior goalie Christopher Yanchoris, fifth-year senior midfielder Christian Watts, fifth-year senior attackman George Rusnak (the three tri-captains) and sophomore attackman Pratt Reynolds.

Yanchoris ranked fifth nationally in saves per game last season (13.73) and sixth in save percentage (.579). He was a USILA Academic All-American and second-team All-MAAC. Watts had 32 goals and eight assists last season, and was an NLL draft pick of the Buffalo Bandits. Rusnak has scored at least 16 points each of the last three seasons. Reynolds was voted the MAAC Rookie of the Year last season after a 33-goal, eight-assist season. 

The Saints have three intriguing transfers: junior attackman Will Edell, fifth-year senior midfielder Rocco Santillo and graduate student attackman Zac Schuette. Edell totaled 16 goals and eight assists in two seasons for Detroit Mercy. Santillo was the SUNYAC Offensive Player of the Year last season for SUNY Brockport and totaled 43 goals and 16 assists while with the Golden Eagles. Schuette, from Ballston Spa, had 52 goals and 39 assists for Springfield last season, becoming just the fourth player in school history to break the 90-point barrier.

The UAlbany women open Sunday at Johns Hopkins. They have four of their top five scorers back from last year’s 8-9 team that lost a close one-goal decision to Vermont in the America East championship. Leading the way is junior midfielder Katie Pascale. An All-Northeast Region and Inside Lacrosse Honorable Mention All-American last season, she scored 43 goals, delivered 39 assists and had 87 draw controls last year.

Also back are leading goal scorer Sarah Falk, who had 52 last year to go along with 13 assists, Ava Poupard (23-3) and Allie Maloney (17-7). Also, Shonly Wallace, who led the University of Oregon in points last year, joins the Great Danes this season.

Also returning are Bryar Hogg and Kadi Futia, an America East All-Tournament selection from Guilderland, as well as goalie Aislinn Sweeney, a Shenendehowa graduate who played in 15 games last season.

The Siena women open Thursday at Colgate. As mentioned, Soures and Colabufo return to lead the Saints. Also returning are the third- and fourth-leading point getters in Grace Dobrzynski and Jordan Bentley, both All-MAAC Rookie Team selections, along with Meghan Decker. Dobrzynski had a team-high 42 assists last year, to go with 14 goals, while Bentley finished with 27 goals and four assists.

Among the freshmen joining Siena this season are attack Emily Danahy, her high school conference’s player of the year the last two seasons and a first-team all-Bergen County selection last season; and midfielder Kylie Kuhn, who participated in the Under Armour All-American Spotlight game last spring and was ranked in US Lacrosse Magazine’s Top 22.

Contact Will Springstead at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @WLSpringstead.

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Categories: College Sports, Siena College, Sports, UAlbany