LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. - For the fourth straight year, Siena Men's Lacrosse are the MAAC Regular Season Champions. The Saints fired a program-record 63 shots - 40 of which were on goal - and completely annihilated Marist 20-8 on Senior Day and Alumni Appreciation Day at Siena Turf Field.
Siena (9-3, 5-0), which has won eight in a row, claims its fifth MAAC Regular Season Title in the past six years and will be the No. 1 seed in the conference championships next month in Poughkeepsie. It's quite an accomplishment for a program which had never qualified for the MAAC Tournament in its first 11 years in the conference and had posted just 20 league wins over that time.
But buoyed by a strong nine-member senior class, the Siena Lacrosse Class of 2012 became the first to win the regular season title in all four years and the Saints improved to 29-1 overall in their last 30 MAAC Regular Season contests.
Had Marist (6-5, 3-2) won today, the Red Foxes would have been in the driver's seat to capture the regular season title and be the No. 1 seed in a tournament which it's hosting. A Marist win over Canisius or a Siena loss at Manhattan next Saturday would have clinched the Red Foxes the title.
But in a showdown with the regular season conference championship on the line, Siena proved that they are still the team to beat even though the MAAC Championship literally go through Poughkeepsie.
Marist kept things close early and pulled to within 4-3 with 10 minutes left in the first half. But the Saints scored five of the half's final six goals to take a 9-4 lead at intermission and never looked back in posting their sixth straight win over their I-87 rival.
Siena dominated possession throughout thanks in large part to freshman Casey Dowd who won 20-25 faceoffs and picked up 10 groundballs. The Saints out-shot Marist 63-36 and held a 45-21 advantage in groundballs.
Offensively, senior Bryan Neufeld dazzled the home crowd for one final time at Siena Turf Field. He went off for nine points on five goals and four assists and moved to within just two points of surpassing Marist's Paul Donohue '02 for the MAAC's all-time career scoring mark.
Once again the defense was equally impressive led by Tom Morr who made 11 saves. Marist's Connor Rice, who entered the day with the fifth longest active point scoring streak in the nation at 40 games, was held scoreless for the first time in his career. Rice was limited to just one shot and turned it over three times.
Evan Guarini and Drew Nesmith led Marist with two goals apiece. Craig Goodermote made 19 saves in 46 minutes of action in goal including several big stops which kept the score from being a lot more lopsided.
The Saints return to action Tuesday for another key game when they face crosstown rival UAlbany with Capital Region bragging rights on the line. The Saints and Great Danes faceoff at 7 p.m. under the lights at John Fallon Field in a game that will be televised on Time Warner Cable Sports.