Titans are off to an incredibly solid start in conference play, at 2-0 (albeit with wins over otherwise winless Quinnipiac and Manhattan when it comes to conference games). The front half of the conference schedule includes another sorry opponent today.
For a long time – a decade, even? – Siena was a Big Boy among mid-majors. They have consistently been atop the conference as long as UDM has shared one with them. That is aggressively not the case this year.
There are four winless teams in all of Division-1, and two of them are less than three years old. One is just a handful of seasons more established in Jacksonville… and then there’s the Saints. At 0-9, things aren’t looking so good. Of course, most of those losses are to the Syracuses of the world, but there’s also a UMass-Lowell-shaped blemish up there, so Siena is truly struggling. If UDM can win, it’ll be little more than taking care of business.
Despite the record, Siena is actually doing a pretty good job putting goals on the board (which should give you shudders thinking about the next section of this preview, for their sake). There are six double-digit point scorers so far, five of whom have reached the ten-goal mark in goals alone.
Sophomore attack Mike Reilly gets first billing not because he’s the top scorer (he’s second), but rather because he’s the only true feeder among the major contributors. With 11 goals and 17 assists, he’s a quarterback-type and distributor. He’s also literally the only player on the team who has scored even a single goal and has more assists than goals of his own.
Reilly is surrounded by a pretty good group of shooter/finishers. Junior attack Chris Robertson is the team’s leading scorer with 23 goals and six assists. Sophomore linemate Keenan Cook doesn’t start, but has ten goals and seven assists to come in third on the team (and demonstrate a pretty big dropoff after those top two in terms of total points). Jordan Barlow, the nominal third attack starter, rounds out double-digit scorers with eight goals and four assists.
The midfield is composed of senior Jon-Michael Tokar (10 goals, six assists), junior Brian Prunty (12 goals, one assist), and junior Tim Cousin (five goals, four assists – he should hit the double-digit plateau this afternoon).
The defense has been an absolute nightmare opposite that decent offense. The adjusted efficiency, according to Analytics Lacrosse, is .400 good for No. 70 and second-worst in the nation (Manhattan is also .400 but behind on decimal points).
The starters on Close D are junior Luke Van Schepen, senior Ryan Ghaderi, and sophomore Jack Twohig. Senior Joe Arcarese has played in all nine games with one start (sounds like the LSM, though the roster doesn’t distinguish). Ghaderi with 13 and Arcarese with nine are the only Saints with a notable number of caused turnovers. Opponents are assisting more than 2/3 of their goals, which means the defense sucks more so than the goalie…
A position that has been primarily manned by Aaron Lewis. He’s saving just .347 (again, made more difficult by the terrible D in front of him), and backup Gage Ponsetti has been getting time – including two starts – and is a touch better at .367. There’s a good chance we see both. There’s a really good chance it doesn’t matter.
The only way UDM doesn’t score is by committing unforced turnovers (unfortunately a forte of the Titans).
Junior Hunter Sanna and freshman Dylan Pantalone have both been bad on draws. Sanna has gotten about twice as many and is better (.410 to Pantalone’s .392), but neither is approaching “good,” and neither gets many ground balls: they’re basically just in there to hope for good wing play.
The Saints are a bad (theme here?) clearing team, and don’t seem to invest a lot in the ride. The Titans can make up some possessions there if the random number generator that the UDM faceoff game seems to be comes up on the negative side.
As is often the case with bad teams, the Saints commit a ton of penalties – nearly five per game. Opponents are converting better than half of them, and a good UDM man-up should be able to capitalize. On the not-so-rare occasion they go man-up, Siena is decent at converting themselves, for what it’s worth.
I don’t know how Siena has fallen so far so fast, but their weaknesses match up very poorly with Detroit’s strengths (or what they could exploit in Detroit’s game if they weren’t so bad). The Saints can’t stop a decent offense, and even good play out of their unit won’t help that. UDM gets the three worst teams in the MAAC for the first three games in conference play, and needs to complete the sweep today to ensure an opportunity for the conference tournament.
Not going to get too specific here. This is a should-win for the Titans (never an easy proposition, we’ve seen over the years). They manage to convert, Detroit 15, Siena 12.