By Canio Marasco
After starting the season slow, largely due to scoring, the Griffs are still struggling to find the back of the net. One player, sophomore transfer Will Pauls, could help the Griffs quell this nagging issue.
The Griffs traveled to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to play the Bucknell Bisons, a team that has also started the season slowly. The Griffs finally found their scoring touch against the Bisons, scoring two goals, on their way to their second victory. The Griffs entered halftime trailing the Bisons 1-0, and looked to be squandering their chances again. However, in the second half, freshman Troy Brady found the equalizing goal in the fiftieth minute. The Griffs’ inability to score from set-pieces, despite having tall center backs, has been a source of consternation for Coach McGrane this season. Notwithstanding this, senior Thomas Teupen scored the eventual game winner off a corner in the dying minutes of the game.
Coach McGrane, on the victory, stated, “I don’t think we did anything different strategically. We finished off a couple of [chances], but we could have had a lot more. We’ve been playing well so we just tried to continue that.”
Although the Griffs haven’t been scoring, they have been playing close in every game. For this reason, Coach McGrane has made a point to tell the team that they are playing well and that they can’t focus on their lack of scoring. Instead, he points out the team’s solid defensive play and hard work.
The Griffs’ game against the Bisons also marked the debut of sophomore transfer Will Pauls. The midfielder transferred from Radford University, a top Division I soccer team, who is currently ranked twenty-fourth in the country. Pauls’ time at Radford was short lived, as he only played five games.
Pauls, on his turbulent year of transfers, stated, “Radford University wasn’t exactly the best fit for me, so I transferred to the County College of Morris to earn some credits, but I had no idea that you are only allowed one transfer. Unfortunately, I had to sit out, go through the process of filling out a ton of paperwork, and luckily I was able to get cleared and I only missed the first four games.”
Pauls unknowingly violated the transfer policy of the NCAA, which states that “under the basic transfer regulations, you must spend an academic year in residence at the school to which you are transferring. If you transfer from a four-year college to an NCAA school, you must complete one academic year in residence at the new school before you can play for or receive travel expenses from the new school.”
Since Pauls transferred from a four-year college, Radford, to a different four-year college, the County College of Morris, he was technically obligated to complete a full year at Morris before being able to transfer again. Pauls was able to plead that he was unaware of this rule and fill out the necessary paperwork to become eligible this season.
With eligibility granted, Pauls chose Canisius. He stated, “I heard great things about the school from Coach McGrane. I also know some of the players on the team, who told me great things too. One of my family’s friends attended Canisius and also said positive things about the school.”
Pauls will offer some much needed offensive ability to the Griffs through his passing and his ability to regain possession. He will also offer support to the backline, as he is a very smart and poised player. His role on the team could be as a key substitute to start the season, and could slowly evolve into a starter playing in the heart of the midfield.
“[Pauls] is a very good player. He gives us a bunch of different looks in the midfield. He can play holding midfield and he can play attacking midfield.” Coach McGrane described the physical attributes of Pauls, stating, “He’s extremely composed on the ball… but possibly his best attributes are his accuracy and range of passing. It was great to get him into the team and he made an immediate impact for us.”
In the Griffs’ second game with Pauls on the team, they played the Duquesne Dukes. Despite finding their scoring touch against the Bisons, the Griffs were unable to find the back of the net against the Dukes. In a rather evenly-matched game, the two teams traded chances and shots throughout the match. Unsurprisingly, the game was forced to overtime after two scoreless halves. In overtime, the Dukes scored in the hundredth minute. The Griffs, as seen in the past, were unable to score on several opportunities in the overtime period.
Coach McGrane, on the tough loss, stated, “Other than the result, there isn’t anything I would change about that game. Duquesne has only given up one goal all year, so they are a difficult team to play against, but we had a couple quality chances and we played well on the day. We limited their scoring chances… Their best opportunity was the one they scored. Again, we played well, and eventually it’s going to click for us and we’ll be fine.”
Although the Griffs have been unable to score this season, their defense has been solid. The Griffs are yet to lose by more than a goal, meaning they’re playing every team tough. The combined lack of scoring and stout defense has seemingly led Coach McGrane to rely heavily on the backline to keep the Griffs in games.
Coach McGrane, on this strategy, stated, “We aim for [tough defense] every game, and we enter every game with the mindset of playing well. We’re really trying to not make a big deal about scoring because I don’t want it to mess with their heads. If we continue to play well, the results will start to take care of themselves.”
The Griffs next game is against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies, who are 0-4-1 this season. The Bonnies’ largest problem this season has been their inability to stop their opponents from scoring. Through five games, they have allowed 15 goals on 96 shots. In comparison, they have only scored three goals on 43 shots. These stats are somewhat skewed due to a 6-0 loss versus Elon. However, the trend remains that the Bonnies give up goals, providing the Griffs with a good opportunity to find confidence in front of the net against a weaker defense.
“I think if we score early, we have the potential to score a few,” stated Coach McGrane on the match-up with the Bonnies. “They’ve given up a bunch goals in multiple games this year, but if you let them hang around, they have proven they can be tough to beat.”