ALBANY -- Scott Marr laughed at first, then grew more serious as he worked his way through his thoughts about taking on Syracuse this weekend.
His University at Albany men's lacrosse team has lofty expectations, internally and externally, about how its 2018 season will play out -- and the Great Danes are something of a national darling, too, because of their fun style on and off the field.
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So Saturday's season-opening trip to the Carrier Dome to play the Orange puts the Great Danes in a unique situation.
Many expect them to win a game they usually lose, and to do so in convincing fashion.
"Everybody is hyping this game like we're going to win by 10 goals. That's just not a realistic scenario," said Marr, whose program is 1-15 all-time against Syracuse. "They're a team that's better than they were last year. I think they're more unselfish, and they have more guys that can score goals for them. Defensively, they're better."
"Let's be honest, OK?" Marr said. "Nobody on this team has beaten Syracuse."
The @UAlbanyMLax team had its first pre-season scrimmage Saturday against Colgate. Connor Fields behind the back pass to Justin Reh one of the nicer highlights in this one.— Todd Schlegel (@ToddSchlegelTV) February 3, 2018
Highlights and reaction here: https://t.co/paRUrkB71r pic.twitter.com/Y4tpPCiMcr
As much as others might expect UAlbany -- No. 3 in the coaches poll, No. 4 in the media poll -- to open 2 p.m. Saturday with a flourish against the Orange -- No. 7 in the coaches poll, No. 10 in the media poll -- that's not what the Great Danes are after. They'll take any kind of win they can get against a program they've only beaten once, in 2013.
"Listen, I'll take a one-goal win. I don't care how we get it," Marr said. "[Against Syracuse], we have nothing to hang our hat on right now."
Syracuse opened its season last Saturday with a 21-4 demolishing of Binghamton, the squad UAlbany beat in last year's America East final.
Meanwhile, UAlbany scrimmaged Princeton that day. By all accounts, the Great Danes produced a similar margin of victory to the Orange that day.
"We were having fun," UAlbany freshman Tehoka Nanticoke said, "doing what we like to do."
"We took a step forward," UAlbany sophomore TD Ierlan said. "That's what we're trying to do this week, too, is take another step forward."
For UAlbany, that means ending its first game of the season on the right side against Syracuse. Last year's loss -- a 10-9 Syracuse win decided on a goal in the final seconds after UAlbany led 6-3 at halftime -- still sticks with the Great Danes.
Squad goals— NCAA Lacrosse (@NCAALAX) January 31, 2018
Does anyone have better headshots than Albany? pic.twitter.com/vZ7HEtBsrp
"We need to finish this year. We need to finish the game," Marr said. "That's our priority."
"To beat them," UAlbany senior Connor Fields said, "we have to play a full game. We're going to be ready to do that Saturday."
Marr, though, knows the Orange will be ready, too.
"They're a team that's been maligned a little bit by their alumni. They haven't made a Final Four in a long time now, and I think there's some pressure on them," Marr said. "I think us coming in ranked higher than them is a serious motivation for them. It's going to be a nail-biter."
This article is written by Michael Kelly from The Daily Gazette, Schenectady, N.Y. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.