“This is our Turf”

By Robert Janish

Senior Sports Writer

With only two games left in their 2016 regular season schedule, the women’s soccer team currently sits in fourth place with a conference record of 5-3, following the Griffs’ 1-0 road overtime victory over the Saint Peter’s Peacocks Wednesday afternoon.

Sophomore Melanie Linsmair netted the game-winning goal in the 95 minute of the game to give the Griffs their fourth conference win in the last six matches. The Griffs also had another strong performance by Alana Rossi, who added four saves to secure her fourth shutout of the season.

The victory pushed the Griffs into fourth place in the conference with the Monmouth Hawks and the Siena Saints coming to Buffalo on Saturday and Wednesday, respectively, to close out the regular season schedule.

Head Coach Todd Clark said these last few games are each very different from one another, referring to their road contest against St. Peter’s, and their final home games against Monmouth and Siena, both ranked amongst the top-three in the conference.

Freshman Gretta Dry said that the team’s goal is to “keeping our level play up, and just making sure we still have that mindset in that we still have to do our games, go out, and perform.”

“We can’t take any game lightly and every game means something to us, so we have to make sure we play our game and do what we do to the best of our ability,” freshman goalkeeper Alana Rossi said.

Citing the youth of his team, Clark stated that a majority of this team are experiencing new things as soccer players, especially as it pertains to Division I soccer. He also said, “getting into the playoffs, and particularly if we can vie for a spot where we can host, that’s certainly something new. If that’s not motivating enough, there’s not much a coach can say.”

Dry has been trying to work on the little things to improve herself, including trying to improve on what she came up short of doing during the previous game. Rossi spoke to her teammate’s thoughts on improvement, saying, “knowing what I did wrong and realizing the mistakes I made, then working on that to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Clark believes that his job as a coach is to “get the best players for each circumstance, and as the year goes on, they show themselves.” He adds how personnel changes are made throughout the course of the season, and how practice performance can translate into game time and how it has helped the team succeed during the year.

Clark also says how important each practice is “because it shows the possibility each game may be.” He specifically addressed junior Shawna Adams and how she had “two fantastic practices back-to-back” which resulted in more game time that “paid off dividends immediately with a goal and an assist and we’ve been waiting for that from her all year.”

Clark continued to state that you can’t settle as a team and coach and that you have to be confident “and need to be self-aware that we are a middle of the pack team. We could win every game. We could lose every game, and keeping the players on their feet is very important.”

Dry said Clark has been pushing the team’s level of intensity and play. “He’s been having us go at it with each other so we’re prepared for what the team’s are going to be like to face.” Dry and Rossi both added how as individuals, they each look to perform their best so that their teammates know what to look for throughout the game.

Dry said wins are very important right now in the standings, and “the next two games are going to be really hard teams, so we just have to see how the other two games play out.”

Rossi said, “It’s a confidence booster” to get these victories. She added how the team is doing its best and “play to our strengths.” She also said how the win enabled the team to have “confidence in the next two games at home.”

“I think we need to do what we can do to the best of our ability because if we do that, we’re a very strong team,” Rossi said about their final games, especially against first-place Monmouth Hawks and how they have prepared for the match.

Dry emphasized their home-field advantage in their contests against Monmouth and Siena. “This is our turf, so we definitely want to defend it. It’s a very big advantage having it at home,” Dry added.

Stating the importance of this final stretch, Clark said, “We could finish as high as third, we could finish as low as seventh or eighth, so it’s vital.” He added how a win may push them into the playoffs, and winning two guarantees a spot, but losing the last two may eliminate them.

Canisius closes out the regular season with games against Monmouth tomorrow afternoon and Siena next Wednesday. The results of these pivotal matchups will decide the Griffs’ fate in the 2016 MAAC Tournament.

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