Geneseo Hoping for a Much Milder Spring
Last year's year cold, rainy, soupy spring in upstate New York was a historical anomaly, but it didn't prevent RIT from snatching the No. 1 seed in the North and the Empire 8 from grabbing three bids to the tournament. The weather did create one casualty, however. With no artificial turf field and a delicate, natural grass game field, a talented Geneseo team could never get out of the gate.
"It was the worst possible experience you could have," said Knights head coach Jim Lyons, who watched his team post a disappointing 7-7 record.
"We've never been impacted by the weather as much as we were last year," continued Lyons. "We practiced outside seven times besides spring break. We only had two home games and we had to move our Senior Day game because of weather. That impacted us. We didn't have the makeup to overcome that."
It retrospect, the weather's impact is obvious. But heading into the season, Geneseo appeared set up for a big year. They had a top-flight attackman in Craig Lange and a premium close defender in Joe May. In addition, they lured heralded rookie Ryan Zaremba to fill the open goalie position.
The Knights opened the season with a respectable 2-1 mark, but proceeded to lose three of the next four games – two in overtime – including a 11-10 extra time loss to RIT. A one-goal regular season loss to Potsdam was followed by 18-17 setback to the Bears in the conference semifinals, finishing off Geneseo's campaign.
Lyons concedes that all of the problems didn't stem from meteorological issues. The coach said that there was a tendency for the players to rely too much on Lange and May to get things done during crunch time.
"The funny thing is, and this happens every once in a while in lacrosse, when you have dominant guys, sometimes the rest of the players just watch them play," Lyons said. "They didn't necessarily play around them. While we lose incredible talent and leadership and really good people, we feel like we'll be a better team overall because we'll rely on more people to get the job done. We'll be more balanced and you won't be able to scout us easily and say, 'We need to shut this guy down and we'll have success.'"
Also, the expectations for Zaremba were probably unreasonable.
"We went from having the D-III Goalie of the Year [Dennis Costanza] to a freshman," Lyons said. "He was a freshman with great upside and great potential, but he came in January and was thrown into the mix right away. He had a senior-oriented defense in front of him and, as a freshman, he didn't own it; it was always Joe May's defense. This year, we continue to have competition everywhere and in the goal is no different. Ryan knows he needs to play better, but he has the tools, and our No. 2 goalie is pushing him. We think we'll get better goaltending this year and it will be a big advantage for us."
Not only does Lyons feel like his personnel may be better suited for a stronger performance, but the players and coaching staff will be able to mentally adjust to whatever Mother Nature has in store.
"This year, if it happens again, we'll be prepared for it," Lyons said. "Hopefully it doesn't happen so we have a more normal season. We're waiting for that facility to make a big difference."
The turf field that has been in the works at Geneseo since '07 is still a go, but it's two years off. Lyons said he expects the Nazareth-Knights game in March 2014 to be the first game on the artificial surface, but it's difficult to think that far ahead. The Geneseo program is only looking one month ahead, anyway. That's when the Knights will face Lycoming on Feb. 29, hopefully under sunny skies.