Lack of wins not diminishing postseason hopes

by Dominic Chamberlain

Sports Reporter

The season for Griffs lacrosse team hasn’t been the best season by far, but it may not be a lost cause as they prepare for two huge conference games.

It’s definitely not the season anyone on the team, or the fans, wished for as the Griffs only have two wins to their name this year. The losing trend continued Wednesday in Cornell when the team lost to the Big Red by a score of 12-6.

The Griffs put on a strong first half, when they finished the half only one goal behind the No. 10 Big Red. But no goals were scored by the Griffs in the third quarter and Big Red found the back of the net five times. The deficit proved to be too much for the Griffs, however the trip was not a total loss for the team.

For Head Coach Randy Mearns there were some positives to take from the loss. “Against Cornell, we played better than we have been playing in previous games,” said Mearns, “I thought our compete level was very, very high. We played against a top 10 team in Cornell, and our thought process in that game is just that we have to stay in those games.”

Pulling positives out of the lackluster season is a must to keep the team focused going forward. It’s hard to pull those positives out of the teams’ statistics, however. The Griffs are getting outscored 128-76 and are getting outshot 426-337 by their opponents. But oddly enough the Griffs has more saves from their goalkeepers than opponent keepers. So while the Griffs give up more shots, they are also stopping more shots.

It’s a weird situation to say the least; a situation that the Griffs come out on the losing end of more times than not. But they know that great goaltending is a reason they are able to even stay in those games, like the game against the Big Red. “At the end of the day Govo (Alex Govenettio) made 18 saves,” said Mearns. “So the shots we needed him to save to keep us in the game, he saved.”

The Griffs clearly have reason to feel confident in goalkeeper Alex Govenettio. Although the team may not be winning, Govenettio is able to find the positives in the teams’ play too.

“Mentally we are all there,” said Govenettio. “Going in to play the No. 10 team in country, with their high scoring offense and pretty stingy defense, it was a tough task, but I feel like we played well for the most part. That was one of our strongest games in terms of ball movement and defensive strategies we put in. We ran a zone-defense we never ran before and we executed it perfectly.”

To lose the game by six goals and still say you executed a new defense perfectly just goes to show that the Griffs are still fighting. And they have reason to continue to fight for remainder of the regular season. It may come as a shock but the two wins the team does have are wins within the conference. What that means is the Griffs are 2-2 in the conference which also means means they can make the MAAC tournament if they finish in the top four. As of right now the Griffs hold that fourth and final spot in the MAAC with two conference games to go.

That makes this weekend’s game against the Quinnipiac Bobcats a must win for the Griffs. The Griffs know what needs to be done this weekend at the Demske Sports Complex and it starts with the offense. The Griffs only average 6.91 goals per game which hasn’t been enough to win some of these close games. To be sure the Griffs get the all-important win against the Bobcats this weekend they will need to look at leading scorer Tim Edwards to lead the offense.

“We had some things we needed to figure out offensively,” said Edwards. “Our offense has been playing really good as of late, our coaches have given us more freedom as of late, and as we figure things out we are playing at a much higher level.”

The importance of the offense cannot be overstated. The Griffs have proven that the defense can keep the games close, but they can’t have another quarter where no goals are scored like they had against Big Red.

The other important part to the Griffs not sticking to the losing trend is the mentality heading into the contest. The whole team realizes that this weekend’s game is a must win. Needless to say the pressure is on and for a senior class who has been to the MAAC Championship game before, they feel it the most.

The game on Saturday is also going to be Senior Night; it’s safe to say emotions will be high at the Demske Sports Complex. What makes the game so important is the Griffs are tied with the Bobcats in the conference standings. Both teams will have two conference games remaining so a win here for the Griffs is huge in terms of making the MAAC tournament. A win this weekend puts the Griffs in third with one conference game remaining and it would seem nearly impossible for the Griffs to lose a playoff spot at that point.

The final conference game for the Griffs is against the Detroit Titans in the Motor City, but the Griffs are trying to stay focused on putting away the Bobcats this weekend. “Every game is a playoff game,” said Govenettio. “Both those conference games are must wins but we need to take them one at a time. In every aspect of the game we just have to win and bury these teams.”

It’s interesting to see the Griffs be so animated and passionate despite their 2-9 record, but with a berth in the MAAC well within grasp, it’s hard to not be excited.

But while you may want to look at the bad record, Mearns still looks deeper. “At times we’re really good and at times we’re really bad. It’s not a one guy problem it’s a mistake here and maybe we don’t clear the ball here but at the end of the day we challenge our guys to compete. After that it’s challenging the guys to limit that one extra mistake and we just challenge them to execute.”

It will be this mentality that the team will need to display against the Bobcats. It’s been a tough season, a season that no player or fan has hoped for, but treating these final conference games as must wins can still give the Griffs team something worth fighting for.

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