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Syracuse Lacrosse: Previewing the Season-Opener vs. Siena

Siena will visit the Carrier Dome on Saturday for the first game of the season for both of these teams. Syracuse enters with a stacked attack line and a brand new FOGO. The Saints return to the field in its quest to make the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Last season the Siena Saints made the NCAA Tournament play-in game but fell to the Bryant Bulldogs by one goal. Looking back, how nice would it have been to play Siena, a team that Syracuse had beaten 19-7 early in the season, instead of Bryant in SU's first round game? Imagine, a win over Siena in the first round, and then a manageable matchup with the Maryland Terrapins in the quarterfinals. Anyway, Siena and its 2014 MAAC Coach of the Year, John Svec, will march into the Carrier Dome for the first game of the season for both of these teams.

2014 Season

Siena finished 2014 with a respectable 11-4 record. The record is a bit misleading, as the Saints didn't beat a team with a winning record once. After opening up the season getting blown out by the Syracuse Orange 19-7, Siena lost by one goal to the Hofstra Pride and the Bryant Bulldogs, the team that eventually beat Syracuse in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Syracuse and Siena played five mutual opponents last year.

Mutual Opponents

Siena Result

Syracuse Result

Albany Great Danes

L 11-19

W 17-16 OT

St. John's Red Storm

L 9-14

W 14-8

Binghamton Bearcats

W 13-9

W 10-8

Hobart Statesmen

W 12-7

W 15-9

Bryant Bulldogs

L 8-9 (NCAAT)

L 9-10 (NCAAT)

2015 Siena Outlook

Siena plays in the MAAC and managed to win the league last year. This year, the MAAC coaches picked Siena to finish first in the league, the rest of the list looks like this: T2. Marist, T2. Detroit, 4. Canisius, 5. Quinnipiac, 6. Manhattan, and 7. Monmouth.

Siena went undefeated in conference play in 2014, and it's not unreasonable to see that happen again considering that the Saints have a very good FOGO, and an above average attack line and goalie. The only two teams that Siena will play in 2015 that had above .500 records in 2014 are Syracuse and Albany. In the MAAC, Siena was the only program to finish with a winning record in 2014. The two toughest games for the Saints will obviously be its dates with Syracuse and Albany. I expect Siena will lose to Syracuse. Albany, however, lost Ty Thompson and Miles Thompson, and has a lack of defensive and net presence and therefore, it is not crazy to think that Syracuse is the only game Siena will lose in 2015.

I have a hard time imagining that any other MAAC school will win the conference, and I think it's pretty obvious that the odds of the league getting an at-large bid are slim, if that. Expect Siena to win out the league and make one of the two play-in games in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

The MAAC only had one 2015 Preseason Honorable Mention All-American, the Detroit Titan's goalie Jason Weber. However, Siena put three players onto the MAAC Coaches' Pre-Season All-Conference list: Richie Hurley (attack), Conor Prunty (midfield), and Casey Dowd (FOGO). The Saints may be the most complete team in the MAAC and should have another good season.

Key Players Lost to Graduation

Siena used six defensemen in 2014, and lost four of those players to graduation. The biggest defensive losses are Brendan Meehan, a 2014 First Team All-MAAC selection, and Andrew Arnold. At the long stick midfielder position the Saints lost Adam Hall, the team's leader in caused turnovers with 14. Another key loss at midfield is Kyle Curry (24G, 6A). The Saints lost one starting attackman, Colin Clive (29, 5), a Second Team All-MAAC selection.

Key Returners

In 2014 the Orange attack dominated Siena using quick passing and excellent crease work; expect a similar result this year as the Saints may be taking a step back on defense. Senior Jake Kissick leads the Saints' close defense after starting 32 games in the last two years and finishing with 10 caused turnovers and 41 groundballs. Kissick is tied at eighth all-time in caused turnovers at Siena with 20 and was named as a second teamer on the All-MAAC selections list. The second defenseman will be senior Max Bonsall who has just six starts under his belt. The third starting defenseman will most likely be Fairport, NY native, Joe Arcarese. The sophomore played in all 17 games last year, had 8 caused turnovers and 10 groundballs, and was named to the All-MAAC Rookie Team. In net, Tommy Cordts will be the starter for the second year in a row. The junior finished his 2014 campaign with a 9.74 goals against average and a .529 save percentage and was a Second Team All-MAAC selection last year.

Siena's attack will be led by 2014 MAAC Offensive POY and 2015 MAAC Coaches' Pre-Season All-Conference player Richie Hurley, the biggest asset for the Saints. Hurley has 160 points in his Siena career and finished out 2014 leading his team in goals and assists with 34 and 48 respectively. The second returning starter on attack is Jordan Barlow (25, 7).

At midfield, Conor Prunty (26, 11) was named to the 2015 MAAC Coaches' Pre-Season All-Conference list. Prunty, a 2013 and 2014 First-Team All-MAAC selection, has played in every game since arriving at Siena and totaled 67 goals, 41 assists, and 108 points in his three years. Prunty currently ranks 18th on Siena's all-time point scoring list. As a freshman, Nate Barry (16, 12) started in all 16 games. Since then, Barry has played in every game except for one and as a sophomore was second in the MAAC in assists. Barry was named to the 2014 Second-Team All-MAAC list.

Another strength for Siena is at the face-off circle. Casey Dowd (230-391, .588 FO%, 151 GB) went 10-23 against the Orange last year, and finished as the fifteenth best FOGO in division I and as the MAAC Face-Off Specialist of the Year in 2014. Dowd sits seventh on the Siena all-time face-off percentage list and has taken the second most face-offs amongst players on that list. Against a solid FOGO, it will be interesting to see how the Orange can manage, and it will be expected starter, Ben Williams', first time out with Syracuse. Keep an eye on how Coach Desko uses his FOGOs, especially if Williams falters, and the performance of the wings.

Syracuse will take on Siena on Saturday at 4 pm in the Carrier Dome. The game can be seen on ESPN3 and locally on TWCS, and will be broadcast on ESPN Radio at 97.7 FM.