(Photo Courtesy of Siena Athletics)
When Liam Gleason arrived in Loudonville, N.Y., ahead of the 2019 season, the Siena Saints were coming off of a 3-9 2018 season in which they finished dead last in the MAAC. In just one full season and what we got of 2020, Gleason and his staff have already set the wheels in motion for this program to turn around and begin to climb the ranks in the MAAC.
Siena improved to 6-7, 3-4 in the MAAC, in 2019, and was 2-4 when the 2020 season was cancelled. Their two wins came against LIU and NJIT. In addition to their improvements in the win column, the Saints have seen some drastic improvements in other areas as well. And the one aspect of the game where they have seen the most improvement, by far, is on the offensive end. And with Gleason coming from UAlbany, that fact is not at all surprising.
In 2018, Siena ranked 34th in DI in scoring offense, averaging 10.33 goals per game, ranked 56th in DI in shooting percentage (25%). They improved to 14th in scoring offense, averaging 12.92 goals per game, and 36th in shooting percentage (28%) in 2019. In 2020, Siena had the 38th-best scoring offense in DI, averaging 11.83 goals per game, and ranked 54th in shooting percentage (27%).
Following those two seasons of improvements the Saints look to keep moving the needle in the right direction, and with how much talent they bring back on the offensive end they could very well see those numbers go up once again.
The Saints will return all five of their top scorers from last season, including midfielder Dylan Pantalone (10G/6A) for a fifth season. Senior attackman Jack Kiernan (16G/13A), who has been one of their most electric players for the past few seasons, junior attackman George Rusnak (10G/1A), junior midfielder Christian Watts (8G/1A), and senior attackman Brendan Lantieri (6G/3A) will all be returning.
In addition to those top five point producers, attackman Colin Gleason, who started all six games last season, and a good chunk of role players will be returning and should be able to step up and improve on what we saw from many of them last season.
On the defensive end, things are a little different, as they took a pretty massive step back last season. They also lose their top pole in Jack Drillock due to graduation. However, this defensive unit can certainly take a step forward, and this spring with as much experience as they bring back.
Senior defenseman Braedon LeBar (17GB/6CT) is their top returning pole and should continue to be an impact player on the back end just as he has the past two seasons. Siena also returns senior Dan Maloney (3GB/5CT), who had a solid junior campaign after sitting out his sophomore season, and Colton Hart (14GB/5CT) for a fifth season.
In addition to the starters and impact players out in front of the cage at close defense, the Saints also return starting goalie Anthony Tebbano. The senior started 10 games as a freshman and every game last season as a junior, boasting a 49% save percentage.
Senior Jason Zou returns as the Saints’ primary option at the faceoff dot. Serving as their first option at that spot for the past two seasons, Zou went 44-for-108 (40%) last season.