Scouting Siena

Syracuse is set to open up the 2014 lacrosse season Monday night against Siena. goes in-depth with the Saints head coach John Svec and preview his team inside.

2013 record: 8-9, 4-2 MAAC

Coach: John Svec (19-14 overall, third season)

Quick summary: For the fifth time in the past seven seasons, Siena is the preseason favorite to win the MAAC. The Saints are coming off a 10-11 conference championship overtime loss to fourth-seeded Detroit last year.

Svec on the Detroit loss: "I think one of the things we learned from (the loss) is nobody's expectations matter, except our own. One of the things we told the guys is you don't deserve anything until you've proven it. Detroit's a great example. They seized the opportunity. We try to pound that into their heads on a daily basis. We'll see where that gets us."

Offense: Siena will return nine of its top 10 scorers from a year ago. It's a situation that bodes well if the Saints want to make another run at a conference crown and get into the NCAA Tournament. Its offense ranked No. 17 in the country -- three spots behind Syracuse -- and averaged 11.29 goals a game.

Midfield: Redshirt senior Kyle Curry (22 goals, 4 assists) and juniors Conor Prunty (31, 19) and Nate Barry (19, 20) will make up the first midfield line for coach Svec's squad. Both Prunty and Barry have played significant minutes since they were freshmen and together, the three have developed great cohesion and chemistry on the field.

Keep an eye out for Ryan Mallon (7, 3), too, who could surface on the second midfield line. He is Siena's utility guy who does-it-all. Mallon was a defensive-midfielder for quite some time before he started seeing time as a two-way guy.

Svec on Mallon: "He can spot anybody who needs to be on the offensive side of the ball."

Attack: With the departure of Danny Martinsen (24 goals, 14 assists), Colin Clive (33,13) and Richie Hurley (30,19) will shoulder the load on the attack side of the ball. The third spot, however, remains a mystery. There are several guys -- three or four, Svec says -- that will vie for time including Kieran Donahue (7,6), Chris White and Jordan Barlow. It's safe to say that Svec and his coaching staff will use different combinations at attack, especially since it's so early in the season.

Svec on the departure of Martinsen and Hurley coming into his own: "We've got a couple of different guys who are looking to fill that hole. It's going to be a different look. We don't have a Danny Martinsen waiting in the wings. We have a bunch of different guys doing different things.

"Last spring, he really blossomed. He became a better dodger and has a great sense of the game. He is different than Martinsen whereas he is very quick and has some of the best feet I've seen on an attackman. He is continuously increasing his angle or getting a better look on the cage."

Donahue, a tough righty, stepped in for Martinsen at times throughout the season while White, a great finisher, had a great fall for the Saints. Barlow has also showcased his abilities in the fall as well, showcasing his athleticism and smarts early on.

Face-off: Junior Casey Dowd will be the primary face-off specialist for Siena. He went 229-for-420 (54.5 percent) and has continued to work on his stick skills. Dowd has even dropped weight to ensure quickness at X.

Freshmen Tyler Pantalone and Jake Shapiro are also options. Pantalone played well in the team's scrimmage against UMass and may get burn behind Dowd.

Interesting note: In my conversation with Svec, he mentioned that through recruiting, he has even tried to go the junior college route to get a FOGO or two and ensure stability at the position, too. So far, no luck.

Interesting note, part II: Siena was extremely solid on EMO a year ago. Ranked No. 3 in Division I (25 goals on 54 attempts) a year ago, Svec says he contributes that to chemistry.

"If you watch what we do," Svec said, "we didn't do a ton of different stuff. We just got really good with passing and catching and giving the right guy the open look. When they got that opportunity, they did a very good job of burying it. They don't care who scores. It's about getting the best shot for us."

Defense: The Saints defensively will welcome back to the fold Pat Killeen and Brendan Meehan. Both endured injuries last season and seem to be back to full health and ready to go. The two will join junior Jake Kissick (20 ground balls, 10 caused turnovers) inclose.

At short stick, redshirt senior Mike Battaglia, junior James Cashin and freshman Devin Votta will see time on the field. Battaglia, a kid "who does it all" according to Svec, has recently had a pole put back in his hands. The senior has had prior experience at the position and is someone who will be playing either up top or inclose depending on the matchup.

"One of the things I did like was we did a good job getting the ball up and out after we made a save or if the ball was on the ground. Our defensive middies did a good job of getting the ball out and pushing transition."

Goalie: With the departure of Matt Sharp (203 saves), Siena has welcomed a healthy competition between its goalies. Redshirt sophomore Tommy Cordts, sophomore Tyler Lutjen, junior Nick Capalbo and redshirt junior Kenny Carpenter are all fighting it out to be named top net minder. It's been so competitive that Svec has said that they will have a starter come game time against Syracuse.

"The competition is excellent," Svec said. "They all want to play and they all know there's an opportunity. We're taking this week and watching closely. It may be more than one guy. I'm not a two-goalie system guy, but right now, no one has really raced ahead."

In the scrimmage against UMass, Carpenter started and split time with Cordts. Capalbo also came in and saw minutes in cage. Both Carpenter and Cordts, according to Svec, did OK and had their "pluses and minuses."

"They all bring something different and are all fun to watch," Svec said. "They all have that individual stuff that they need to work on and that individual stuff that makes them really stand out. It makes practice pretty interesting when they're all hot and it's tough to score on them."

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