May 1, 2014
The hard practices during the grueling winter did not matter to the Siena Men's Lacrosse team as they prepared for their quest for a championship. As spring has finally returned, the team has clinched the MAAC regular season title and has nurtured one of the NCAA's brightest stars in red-shirt junior captain Richie Hurley.
With the MAAC tournament set to begin, the team is more focused than ever after falling just short of winning a championship the past two years. Each of the last two seasons the Saints have had championships slip from their grasp in the waning moments and have worked relentless this past offseason to try and finish off their goal of winning the MAAC Title.
"I think we are relatively happy with how the season has gone so far," said Hurley. "What we have tried to do is build each week and get better with each game. We know how it feels to lose and it is not something that we want to feel again."
The Saints secured their spot in the MAAC Tournament for the sixth straight year by avenging last season's title game loss with a 9-8 overtime win at Detroit. They then rallied past Quinnipiac the following weekend to capture the program's sixth MAAC Regular Season Championship in the past eight years.
The program has been dominant in MAAC play since 2007, posting a 48-8 (.857) regular season mark and a 55-12 (.821) overall record. But while the Saints have appeared in five consecutive MAAC Championship Games, the program has won the title just twice leaving this year's team hungry to get back to the Promised Land.
This season has been learning and growing process for the Saints as they endured one of their toughest schedules this year and has the team confident they can go really far in May.
The emergence of Hurley has been vital to the Saints. The Setauket, N.Y. native enters the week ranking fourth nationally in both points per game (4.93) and assists per game (2.86) and last night was honored as the MAAC Offensive Player of the Year.
Named to the Tewaaraton Award Watch List - college lacrosse's version of the Heisman Trophy - Hurley recently became the 23rd player in program history to eclipse 100 career points. While Hurley gets a lot of credit, he is quick to point out that it was his coaches and teammates who believed in him this year.
"My success on the field this year can really be credited to my teammates and coaches," he said. "Coach Svec and Coach Cross have put a lot of faith in me to quarterback the offense, and given me freedom to play without much of a conscience or fear of making mistakes. The rest of the guys on offense are playing so well that it makes my job really easy. They trust me to get them the ball and I know they're going to catch it and stick the shot. We have developed a good chemistry as an offense and I think we are really starting to click. There aren't any stars on our team. We all know that if we do our jobs and keep it simple good things are going to happen."
Red-shirt senior Kyle Curry has also been a main part of Siena's success this season as he has provided an incredible amount of leadership and is someone Coach Svec has relied on late in games. A Second Team All-MAAC selection, Curry understands he is not the most vocal leader but does try to set a great example on his teammates every day in practice and in games.
"As we get closer to the tournament the message that I think is most important is to sincerely value each day," Curry said. "I have been a part of very talented teams that have fallen short of winning a MAAC championship. Anything can happen during tournament time."
Curry and Hurley both know what it takes to win it all as well. The duo was part of Siena's 2011 MAAC Championship Team and hopes to bring home another title to Loudonville this weekend.