Two goals become one

by Dominic Chamberlain

Sports Editor

It’s been said week after week but it remains true; the Griffs still have a shot at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament. And for the first time in a long time they have some good momentum going as they head into their final game of the season.

The momentum comes in the form of a 20-6 win against the Virginia Military Institute Keydets. It seems as if the win was much needed at this point in the year. The Griffs are heading into undoubtedly the most important game of the year and any form of momentum will be good for the team.

The team saw success in every aspect of the game in some form. Defensively the team allowed only one goal in the first half; that’s just one goal in 30 minutes of lacrosse. Goalkeeper Alex Govenettio had two shutout quarters, one of those being the second quarter in which the Keydets took 14 total shots and Govenettio saved the three shots that found their way on net. And obviously it was a big day offensively for the Griffs. 20 goals in a game is impressive in itself but for 15 of those goals to come in the first half only proves that the Griffs always come out with intensity.

This has been a trend that the Griffs have been following for quite some time; they seem to come out and play a very strong first half, and if they aren’t leading by the end of it they are at least close heading into the second half. In the case against the Keydets, the Griffs believe the success all came down to preparation.

“I think we just had more confidence going into this game” said junior forward Billy Jacobbi, “we knew that last year we beat them pretty well and we had a good week at practice. Everyone came focused to that game and we played really good.”

Focus is key for a team that hasn’t had the best season to this point. Keeping their eye on the prize is important and the Griffs have the ability to control their own fate. If the Griffs can win the game this weekend by two or more goals, they will then clinch a spot in the MAAC Championship regardless of the outcome of the other conference games.

Although there were many positives that the team can pick up on from their past game, some of the same issues that plagued the team over these past few weeks (and all year) were still present against the Keydets.

For instance the majority of the offense came in that first half against the Keydets. While scoring a lot in the first half of a game isn’t the worst thing in the world, it can only be good if the Griffs keep that lead. The Griffs seem to be the team to beat in the first half but once the second half starts something seems to change. The third quarter in particular has been the major struggling point. The Griffs have been outscored in the third quarter in each of their past four games, including the blowout win against the Keydets.

In that span the Griffs have been outscored 17-4 and two of those games saw the Griffs score no goals in the third. Against the Keydets the Griffs allowed five goals while scoring three. The fourth quarter was better defensively when the Griffs allowed no goals, but the offense had their worst quarter of the game only scoring twice. To be fair, the Griffs didn’t need any more goals to win that game, but to have first half domination like that, and to only score one third of the goals you did in the first must be a little underwhelming.

As mentioned the third quarter has been a problem for some time now, but it’s something the team and senior defender Adam Donner are aware of. “We’ve been talking about it and we know it’s been a downfall for us,” Donner said. “We had a good talk about it in a little meeting we had today and I think we just need to work on keeping our focus throughout the halftime and just keeping the energy up. We’ve been playing well in the first half; we just have to work on maintaining that energy going into the third quarter.”

Donner would then add, “It seems like we are so worried about the third quarter at this point that a team gets one goal on us and we kind of get down on ourselves and we kind of think to ourselves ‘oh it’s the third quarter, it’s going to happen again,’ so we just need work on keeping momentum and keeping our spirits up.”

Just looking at the game against the Keydets, maybe the team just has to survive the quarter without getting too far behind. The Griffs did have a shutout fourth quarter so any goals the Griffs scored in the quarter were just icing on the cake. If the Griffs can have another shutout fourth quarter this weekend, and they have a two goal lead in the game, then the Griffs will be in the MAAC Tournament.

Head Coach Randy Mearns thinks that making the MAAC Tournament is well within reach. “I think that we are focused and we have the belief that if we play the way that we are capable of playing, there’s no doubt in our mind that we can win the game,” said Mearns.

The team that is in the way of the Griffs and a MAAC Tournament bid is the Detroit Titans. The Titans stand at 3-2 in the MAAC and in third place in the MAAC standings. It won’t be an easy game so the team needs to be prepared for a battle.

“They are an attack oriented team,” said Donner. “I think we have good matchups with our defense-men on their attack-men and I think if we can run our system like we have been all year, it will bode well for us in this game.”

It will be important for the Griffs to play good defensively, especially if they can do what they have been doing in the first half. If the team comes out strong and gets an early lead, the team will look to the defense to maintain a two goal lead.

Beating the Titans by at least two goals isn’t the only scenario that gets the Griffs into the MAAC Championship, but it is the one they have the most control over. The Griffs know that if they can win the game by two or more goals they clinch their spot regardless of what happens elsewhere, but that is something they will worry about more as the end of the game comes near.

“There’s the pressure of if we win by two we’re in and as our guys know that,” said Mearns. “It will come into play in the last three minutes or two minutes of the game. It will be either it’s not even an issue because we are leading by like five or it’s ok we’re winning by one then we may start to scramble a bit. Our players know what the situation is, but that’s the end result; we need to focus on winning the first face off, getting a first time ground ball, clearing the ball and all the little things because if we do all the little things then the result at the end will be good for us.”

The Griffs want to make the MAAC Tournament and want to extend their season which would include a shot at winning another championship. But the Griffs will first have to continue their first half strength and then change their third quarter struggles. The Griffs can do it and are confident going into the game

Perhaps Jacobbi summed the team’s attitude heading into this important match-up best, “Oh we’re very confident. We believe we are going to win the game and that’s how we are going to play.”

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