By Robert Janish
Senior Sports Writer
After a below average 2-3 start to their 2016 campaign, the women’s soccer team will travel to the University at Buffalo on Friday, September 9, to take on the Bulls. The Golden Griffins have earned victories in their last two contests, picking up wins over the Robert Morris Colonials and the St. Bonaventure Bonnies.
The team lost their first three contests to the Sacred Heart Pioneers, Cleveland State Vikings, and Kent State Golden Flashes. Freshman forward Greta Dry (two goals) and junior forward Maddie Good (three assists) lead their team in goals and assists respectively after the team’s first five contests.
Senior back Callie Good believes that even though the season didn’t start out the way they wanted, “If you look at the statistics, we were getting the chances that we wanted. With two wins, I think we’re feeling pretty confident going into conference.” She added that, despite the record, “I think we’re happy with where we’re going.”
Good elaborated on her hopes for her final season, stating she always wants to give it her all on the field during every practice and game. She hopes, for the team as a whole, to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. “That was one of my goals when I originally committed to this school, to get to the NCAA tournament. I think we’re in a good spot to do that,” she said.
During the Griffs’ 3-0 win over Robert Morris, freshman forward Elizabeth Ash scored her first collegiate goal, while adding an assist. “I was really excited,” she exclaimed, referring to the goal. “It just makes me more ambitious to score more in every single game.” She said that she has been very important to this squad’s attack game so far this year. She also believes she has helped contribute to various offensive departments, such as shots on goal and chances created.
Tonight, they travel to play the UB Bulls, who currently hold an overall record of 3-2-2 that includes an undefeated 3-0-1 record at home. With wins over St. Bonaventure, Cleveland State and the Navy Midshipmen, Canisius heads on the road looking to cool down their opponent’s recent wave of momentum.
“Obviously, UB’s a big rival game,” Good said. “There’s a lot of emotion and competitiveness into it, but other than that, I don’t think we’ve necessarily prepared any different.” Good said that the team has been trying to focus on their abilities and to “keep getting better at that. Make other teams kind of play and adjust what they’re doing to us.”
“UB’s a difficult opponent, very experienced, very talented,” Head Coach Todd Clark said. “Coming off of two Mid-American Conference (MAC) championships, the way we’ve played in our exhibitions and first five matches, if we play to our best, we absolutely can come away with the win if we’re fortunate to play that way.”
Ash agreed with her teammate on how they’ve prepared themselves for this game, simply adding, “We’re trying to match up to a certain team. We’re trying to play our best and trying to focus on the little things that aren’t perfected yet and perfect them.”
According to Good, UB has been consistently good and always at the top of the MAC. “I know last year, they’ve given us a heck of a game, actually come out victorious the last couple of years,” she said. She added that Buffalo has great individual players, and “I think, if we beat them, it’ll show us that we’re in the right direction and we’re right where we want to be. If we lose, it’ll be a matter of whether we play well or not.”
Ash also added that regardless of the result, “I think we’ll, as a team, grow.” She said if they lose, it would be important to work on weaknesses, and to find ways to make sure they’re the better team heading into every game. With a win, “that just shows we’re in the right direction.”
Clark added that his team is full of great self-motivators. He elaborated on how the veterans are more experienced and have been through this before, while the freshman are getting used to playing at the college level. “They know that every game is a big game. We’ve played well in every single match, even if the results didn’t go that way. We haven’t needed to motivate them, they’re doing it themselves.”
“I think if you ever lose a match, if you’re any sort of competitor, it inspires you to do better the next time,” Clark continued. “I think the interesting thing for our returners is they have the background of having played UB, both in the spring and the fall, and having some success and not winning.” He added that the freshmen are learning about the importance of these big matchups, such as UB, “so they will have to go through it before they realize this is a big one.”
“UB’s in a great conference, so I think if we can match up with them and play even with them, beat them, I think that will give us a great boost of confidence that we can play and beat any team in the MAAC,” Good said. She said this game will be a good indicator of their MAAC competition later on in the year.
Clark added on how important the performance of his team is, and, “at this level, you’re expected to win all your games, but I think if we’re looking at the MAAC, then it’s more important that we perform well.” He believes the result of this game doesn’t truly matter, as long as the performance and the effort are where they need to be and hopefully follow the team into the MAAC.
The match with UB will conclude the Griffs non-conference schedule before Canisius will head on the road to take on the Fairfield Stags in their 2016 MAAC opener next Saturday (Sept. 17).