Faltering in conference play

By Canis Marasco

Sports Reporter

After a promising start to conference play, the Griffs have fallen to a 2-4 record after dropping three consecutive games.  

        The Griffs looked to continue their quick start to conference play with a win against the Quinnipiac Bobcats. In a back and forth game, both teams exchanged shots and chances throughout the first half. However, both teams struggled to find any quality chances in front of the net and the score remained 0-0 heading into the second half. As the game progressed, the trend from the first half remained true. Despite the many shots and chances in the game, it remained scoreless and was forced to overtime. In the 95 minute, the Bobcats finally scored to win the game.

        The Griffs inability to score was a problem again in their game against the Marist Red Foxes. The first half was very even, as the two teams exchanged shots. The Red Foxes were able to score first in the 11 minute. However, the Griffs responded quickly with a goal from junior Mo Kretschmer. The even play continued in the second half with shots totaling 16-15 in favor or the Red Foxes. Despite the opportunities, the Griffs were unable to capitalize on their chances. The Red Foxes, conversely, were able to find the back of the net in the dying moments of the game, to secure the win.

        Coach Dermot McGrane, on the Griffs inability to score, stated, “We were trying not to make a big deal about the scoring. We really needed to work on all facets of the game. I suppose we’re putting more emphasis on scoring right now because that’s the area that needs the most improvement, but we need to be able to defend, play through the midfield… You know, we can’t just focus on one area.”

        The Griffs’ poor conference performances culminated in their game against the Iona Gaels. In what Coach McGrane characterized as their worst game of the season, the Griffs were trounced 3-0. The Griffs were outshot 18-3 in the first half, and unsurprisingly, trailed 2-0 heading into halftime. The Griffs were able to sustain better possession in the second half, but the Gaels added another goal as the game came to an end.

        “It was by far our worst game of the year. It’s the only game that I think we’ve played badly in and deserved to lose. Before the game I would have been surprised by the poor defensive play, but watching the game, you have to remember that the ball has to go through the midfield before the defense and goalie and simply everyone played poorly. It was everything,” Coach McGrane continued “Everything about the game was awful. The best thing about the game was when the final whistle went.”

        Despite the three goals conceded, Coach McGrane wasn’t willing to put the loss on the defense alone. He felt the loss was due to a poor team performance in general. The Griffs have only conceded 15 goals this season, one of the lowest totals in the conference. Despite this fantastic mark, the team is only 6-7-1, largely due to the defense not receiving goal support from the offense.

        Senior centerback Thomas Teupen, on the pressure the defense feels going into games knowing they likely won’t get goal support, stated, “Our goal is to always allow as few scoring chances as possible. But, the pressure is on us knowing that conceding one goal could be the game winner. Overall, I wish we would have scored a couple more goals this season, but it is what it is. I’m not complaining, I’ll do my job and so far, defensively, everything has been going well this season.”

        After the game, and a three game losing streak, Coach McGrane looked to change the team’s make-up going into their game against St. Peter’s.

“We really just wanted to put that behind us. We moved some players around in certain positions today,” Coach McGrane, more specifically, stated. “I put Lucian Preis up top, I put Mo Kretschmer further up and we put Will Pauls in holding midfielder. I think those changes made a difference. Also, we had Eric Strauchen back from injury.”

With those changes in mind, the Griffs looked to end their three game losing streak against the St. Peter’s Peacocks. The Griffs started the game quickly, scoring two goals in quick succession in the fifth and sixth minute. Eric Strauchen, who was returning from injury, scored within minutes of his return to the team. The Peacocks were able to score one goal before the half, but were unable to find an equalizer in a cagey second half. The Griffs’ strong defense was able to preserve the one goal lead and give the team the win.

Coach McGrane, on the bounce back victory, stated, “I think the energy that we brought at the beginning of the game was huge. We were moving the ball quickly, we were creating chances and we looked ready to play. Once we got the two goals, after about twenty-five minutes, I thought the game settled in and that we let them back in it. At halftime I told the boys that we just need to get through the first 25 minutes in the second half, and then we can just defend, play smart and play out the last few minutes.”

The biggest difference, the Griffs exhibited in their game against the Peacocks was their quick start. In many of their conference losses, they started the game slow, allowed goals due to mental mistakes and then had to play from behind the rest of the game, relying on their struggling offense.

Thomas Tuepen, on the changes the Griffs made heading into their game against the Peacocks, stated, “We’ve been working on finishing, but our real weakness is the mental aspect of the game. We’ve been trying to improve our ability to enter a game mentally strong and to be ready to play. Against Iona we could have conceded in seven seconds – we weren’t ready. Today we scored the first two goals within the first couple minutes and that was the biggest possible change we were looking for. That’s what we need to do in the future – score early and then our strong defense can take over.”

The Griffs next game is against the Monmouth Hawks, who are 4-3-0 in MAAC play so far this season. The Hawks defense has been their weakness this season – they have allowed twenty-two goals. Despite their poor defense, the Hawks have scored sixteen goals, whereas the Griffs have only scored twelve. The Hawks poor defense could be ideal for a Griffs team that is looking to rediscover their scoring ability.

Coach McGrane, on the Griffs match-up with the Hawks, stated, “It’s a quick turnaround and away from home. Monmouth are a very good team. We need to just show up and play like we’re capable of. You can’t win games when you only have three or four players playing well, we need a strong team performance to get the win.”

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