Hey guys! I decided that I'd like to do a quick little write-up for you guys on SU's first round opponent in the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament (read: I had too much coffee studying for finals and have too much energy to sleep). My dad has had SU season tickets for football since 1987 and I've been going ever since I could understand what football was. I also like going to Cuse basketball games and lacrosse games whenever I can so I guess you could say my dad did a pretty good job growing his little Orange. There is only one thing I decided that he didn't count on... I go to Siena College (other factors outweighed my sports loyalties too much). That being said I work for the Siena Athletics Department as a communications assistant (running the scoreboard, inputing game stats during the game, etc.) so I know the Lacrosse team pretty well and have worked pretty much all of their home games. I'll also provide some personal sidenotes on the players if I have any unofficial information for you. I don't post much on here but I read this blog religiously so take the jump so I can inform all of you about my little school in Loudonville.
School: Siena College
Head Coach: Brian Brecht (7th season)... Brecht is a bit of a hard*** on his players, refs and generally the other members of the athletic department but, gets the most out of his players and has seen the program grow tremendously on the field and off it (hes gotten a ton of equipment sponsorships and even a few games aired locally on TWC). Can lose his cool on the sidelines but is highly respected in the MAAC.
Background: Siena plays in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and have been close to the top of the conference for the past 3 years. They won the conference championship two years ago and came in second place last year after a game winning goal took them out in OT. This year they have arguably there strongest squad and will put up a fight with anybody on the field. They set the program record for wins this year with a 13-4 record and beat Air Force 11-6 in the Dome this year. As far as any true "quality opponents" they lost to both Duke and Johns Douchkins... I mean Hopkins by a combined score of 36-12 early this season when there was still snow on our field. They won each of there MAAC tournament games by a score of 18-8 and 12-3 in very one-sided matches so they shouldn't be taken lightly by Coach Desko and the boys.
Strengths: Siena's strong suits are its penalty kills and in its defense. Siena ranks 3rd nationally in man-down defense and tightly pack the box to prevent open looks. They are also athletic enough to cover a lot of ground during these situations to take away easy shots. Siena ranks 7th and 8th respectively in saves per game and groundballs per game and they work to force difficult shots and hustle after loose balls.
Weaknesses: Where they are lacking is in trying to keep the ball in their hands. They rank 56th out of 60 teams in turnovers per game with 20.2 a game. The Cuse should look to attack when Siena has the ball early and often to force mistakes and put the ball on the ground. I've notice during games that Siena can go long stretches without controlling the ball and still somehow hang on to a lead so if they get out in front early, the Cuse should look to finish on any opportunities it can.
#9 Bryan Neufeld - Jr., Attack
"Neuf" is easily our best offensive player and usually sets up behind the cage and has had some pretty dirty finishes throughout the year. He won the MAAC Offensive Player of the Year and leads our team in goals and can score in a variety of different ways. He has scored a point in each of his last 52 games (this is basically Siena's version of "Andy Rautins is Leo's son"). He had 7 points in the conference semifinals and always finds a way to finish around the net. Syracuse should put Lade on him if he is healthy enough to make sure he does not explode and lead Siena on a scoring binge. He's also Canadian so to me thats a plus.
#25 Duncan Seale - Sr., Defense
Duncan is the league's reigning Defensive POY and seeing him up close and personal he looks like he was build out of solid granite. He's another Canadian (don't ask me why, we must be trying to establish a pipeline) and although he doesn't show up a ton in the stat sheet he is the leader of our defense. He coordinates all of the movement around the goal and holds us together during penalties. He's a hard worker and you can tell he always gives a s*** on the field and leaves nothing to chance. He will most likely be put on Keogh so its going to take more dazzling moves from him to get passed Duncan. Also he decided to dye his hair blond for the playoffs and is an all-around fun guy to hang out with and be around so please play nice with some of the heckling.
#8 Tom Morr - RS Jr., Goalie
Morr is backbone of our defense, a team captain and the main reason we hold it together well for the most part on D. He sat out most of the past 3 seasons because he was behind the best goalie in our history Brent Herbst who was drafted last year by the Long Island Lizards (another lacrosse fact I've heard ad nauseum). He was also selected to be on the All-MAAC first team so the coaches consider him the best in the league. From what I've seen Morr's strengths are that he picks up the ball really well out of the stick and doesn't allow many second chance opportunities. However, when he is constantly being peppered with shots from a variety of angles he tends to get turned around and allows parts of the net to be exposed. If JoJo distributes the ball well then Syracuse can expect a nice portion of the net to be open for close finishes.
Prediction: Even though my heart tells me that Siena is scrappy enough to slow SU down to keep it close, those early season blowouts to Hopkins and Duke tell me that the Saints don't have the depth or the athletes to keep up in the Dome. Siena also doesn't do particularly well at the X so it shouldn't be a problem for Syracuse like it has been in the past. Syracuse 14 - Siena 5
Links for more info: Here's some links that I know of from my experience in the athletic department so check these for updates on what Siena is doing before the showdown on Sunday.
Thanks guys and gals, I really enjoy reading this site for the info, humor and witty banter (overused cliche I know) keep posting and I hope this helps prepare you for your trip to the Dome (you're going right? isn't it like required?)