Griffs battle nationally ranked team

By Canio Marasco

Sports Reporter

The Canisius Women’s Lacrosse team started their difficult non-conference schedule this past week with a game against the ninth-ranked team in the country.

The Griffs opened their season against the Northwestern Wildcats, one of the three ranked teams they will play this season. Despite falling to an early 1-0 deficit, the Griffs responded and took a 2-1 lead. Although the Wildcats would control the first half, holding the advantage in shots 14-9, the Griffs were able to head into the half tied 4-4. Coming out of the half, the Griffs took a quick 5-4 lead. The Wildcats scored two unanswered goals before they started to pull away. In an even more lopsided half, as the shots totaled 20-7 in favor of the Wildcats, the ninth ranked team in the country coasted to the victory, winning 9-7.

The Griffs, despite playing a top ranked team, were never truly out of the game. At no point was the Wildcats’ lead greater than two. The Griffs were carried by the performances of junior midfielders Jen Reininger and Erica Evans, who both totaled three points. Sophomore attackers Jourdan Roemer and Tessa Chad also scored for the Griffs.  

Coach Scott Teeter, on the Griffs loss to the Wildcats, said, “I think Northwestern being a top-10 nationally ranked team, they basically just wore us out. They did that by putting pressure on the drive and dominating the draws. Once we got tired, we made some more mental miscues and that turned out to be the difference in the game.”

Sophomore attacker Tessa Chad added, “We just had difficulties in clearing the ball through transition, we made a couple careless mistakes passing and catching, and we just kind of got out worked on the ball. We weren’t the first to it and we weren’t winning 50/50 balls.”

The most alarming trend evident in the Griffs’ game against the Wildcats, as mentioned by both Coach Teeter and Chad, was their inability to win faceoffs. It is widely recognized that most teams will strive to win somewhere around 50% of the draws in the game. The Griffs won only one of the 17 draws in the game, or five percent of the draws.

Chad stated that the problem wasn’t freshman midfielder Rachel Ryan, who took the majority of the draws. Rather, she felt the true problem was that the Griffs weren’t winning the 50/50 balls from the faceoffs.

Coach Teeter, on the Griffs poor performance on faceoffs, said, “Overall, I just think Northwestern outworked us. A lot of paying the price, gritty type of work. Northwestern was fantastic at it. They just outworked us as a whole unit. A lot of the time, we just didn’t pay the price. We were first to the ball and we didn’t pay the price to come up with the [groundball]. And if you make a mistake against Northwestern, they’re going to make you pay.”

With some obvious areas to work on, the Griffs’ upcoming schedule doesn’t become any easier. In the coming weeks, the Griffs will play the University of Oregon, the University of Syracuse, the University of Michigan, and the defending national champions, the University of North Carolina.  

“Any time you put a game on your schedule, you want to go in with a win mentality. But when you’re playing a nationally ranked team like Northwestern, Syracuse, or North Carolina, you really want – until you can consistently beat them – a chance to win at the end of the game,” Coach Teeter stated. “I think at Northwestern, we actually had that chance – for a long time now with our program, we’ve had a chance to upset a ranked team. We just haven’t taken that next step, but we’re close.”

Adding to the tumult of playing some of the best teams in the country are the many new faces on the Griffs’ roster. Over the offseason, six girls left the team for various reason. This opened the door for seven freshmen and transfers. With so many different faces, all adjusting to a change in scheme and new teammates, it’s quite possible the early season could be tough for the Griffs.   

Coach Teeter, on dealing with a changing roster, stated, “It’s not that difficult. Most of them played in the Fall Ball season and we use that season to get our freshmen up to speed. But for most of them, these games are still their first collegiate games – and their first was against a nationally ranked team. It’s an eye opener for some of them. But for transfers, they have the fall to learn the new system, get to know their teammates, build some chemistry, etc. It’s game one, but we’ll be a different team by the end of the year.”

Despite the tough non-conference schedule, the Griffs are still expected to coast through the MAAC this season. The Griffs have won the conference five of the last six seasons. Chad, when asked about the team’s confidence, stated that winning the conference is an expectation. She said the team is very confident in their talent and skill, and that if they dominate the conference as they did last year, they should repeat as MAAC champions again this season.

“It’s not really a goal, it’s an expectation. We feel pretty confident, but it’s never easy,” Coach Teeter said. “The bullseye gets bigger each time we play an opponent or win a championship. So it’s not going to be easy.”

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