MAAC tourney still possible

By Dominic Chamberlain
Sports Editor

For the men’s lacrosse team, a shot at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship is still a possibility. It’s a long shot but a possibility none the less.

It wasn’t the result anyone was hoping for in the Griffs latest conference matchup against Quinnipiac. The team came out strong for the game following the senior day ceremony, even scoring the first goal of the contest and ending the first quarter with a one goal lead. The Griffs would head into the half tied with the Bobcats as they prepared to enter the dreaded third quarter.

The third quarter has been a struggling point for the Griffs all year. In the team’s previous game before playing the Bobcats, the Griffs lost a game to the Cornell Big Red. In that game the team allowed five goals in the third quarter while scoring none. And that’s not even the worst the team has done in the third quarter. Back on March 17th against the Albany Great Danes, the team allowed 12 goals in the third quarter.

And against the Bobcats the trend continued. The Bobcats scored three goals in the third while the Griffs scored none, just like in the previous matchup in Ithaca. It would be a deficit the Griffs couldn’t overcome even as they scored one more goal than the Bobcats in the fourth quarter to lose the game 9-7.

It was a tough loss in more ways than one for the Griffs. The seniors walked off the field with a loss on senior day, the team had to figure out why the second half was giving them trouble, and they had to deal with a big in-conference loss.

For senior defender Adam Donner positives could be taken out of this loss. “I thought the battle was there and the fight was there” said Donner, “It was just a few mental mistakes that cost us that one. On the bright side we still have hope going into this weekend. We still need a few things to happen but we are still in the hunt for the conference championships.”

It can be tough to be positive following a loss like that.  But it just goes to show the mentality of the Griffs team. They are all in and are trying to make the most of their gloomy situation. But to do this the Griffs need to learn from this game against the Bobcats.

It hasn’t taken long for the Griffs to break down that game but more importantly the third quarter struggles. “We just really didn’t have the ball in the third quarter” said Donner, “I think we only had three possessions or so in the third quarter. We have to do a better job of matching the other team’s intensity coming out of halftime too and just try to build off of what we did in the first half and carry that success over instead of regressing in the second half.”

And the Griffs don’t have to carry much success over to win these games.  They only lost to the Bobcats by two goals so just getting some offense going in the third could be the difference between losing and winning some of these games.

That is something that has been recognized by Head Coach Randy Mearns. “It’s a culmination of all these little factors that are costing us games” said Mearns, “because we are in the games but we just haven’t been able to minimizes these little factors and win consistently.”

And while the team hasn’t been able to find a way to win these games they can’t blame goalkeeper Alex Govenettio. In that third quarter that plagued the Griffs against the Bobcats, Govenettio made four big saves.

He certainly felt a stronger offensive presence from the Bobcats in the third quarter. “They definitely came out with more offensive pressure in that third” said Govenettio, “they were getting a lot more opportunities through transition and without us having the ball for most of that quarter they had more time to get good shots away.”

The third quarter problems didn’t exactly stop after the loss to the Bobcats. It continued in the final home game of the year at the Demske Sports Complex. The Griffs let up three more goals than their opponents, the Binghamton Bearcats, in the third quarter and lost the game by two goals. The little mistakes got the Griffs again.

“It seems like our whole season we’ve had tough third quarters” said Mearns, “we come out and play inspired in the first half and then sometimes we come out for the second half and I don’t want to say we’re lackluster but maybe we aren’t as focused as we need to be.”

The Binghamton game was tough, for 11 of those players it will be the last time they will play a home game for Canisius. To end it on a loss when there were two quarters where the Griffs were outscored by three goals and to lose the game by only two goals must sting. And even the players realize it’s these little factors that are costing them these close games.

“We really need to focus on our communication defensively towards the end of possessions,” said Doneer, “that’s where it seems we are getting beat right now defensively and then we got to just do what we can to try and get the wins.”

And wins are what the Griffs need right now. Even with a disappointing loss to the in-conference Bobcats and the 2-3 record in the MAAC, the Griffs can still make the MAAC championships. In order to do so they absolutely have to win against the Detroit Titans in Motor City. Not only do they have to win but they have to win by at least two goals. In addition to this they need to have some things go their way. The Griffs will also have a non-conference game against Virginia Military Institute in Virginia. It will be an uphill battle to make the tournament but one the Griffs welcome and will take head on.

“Heading into Detroit we could already potentially be eliminated” said Mearns, “but at the end of the day we are going to win that game. I’ve got 11 seniors who could be playing their last collegiate game and we are going to play to win. But we don’t know what the situation is until we get there so we are just going to focus on that we have life, and we need to beat VMI and we need to beat Detroit.”

These last two games are going to be the last chance for the Griffs to prove that they can close out some of these close games. And they definitely want to prove to everyone that while their record may be bad, the team isn’t. The Griffs clearly showed they have the ability play close games especially within the MAAC.  It will just come down to minimizing those mistakes for the Griffs to win the game. And for the seniors, their last chance to win a game in a Griffs uniform.

“Clearly the Detroit game is a must win” said Govenettio, “that game will mean the world because that may be the last collegiate game we ever play but more importantly we want to get that birth in the playoffs, we want to get to that MAAC championship, and we want to make a run in the NCAA tournament.”

But for now the Griffs prepare for these all important last two games. The Griffs they know they can compete and they definitely have the fire within them, and if they can find a way to get over that third quarter hump, the Griffs will be the one hard to when they take the field in Detroit.

 

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