By Robert Janish
Senior Sports Writer
After a non-conference schedule that resulted in a 5-4 record, the Griffs have some tough losses against Top 10 programs like No. 9 Northwestern and No. 2 North Carolina. Wins against Oregon and Michigan, both members of “Power Five” conferences have given Canisius motivation prior to the start of conference play this weekend against the Manhattan Jaspers.
Losses to very skilled teams, including Northwestern and Columbia, not only helps illustrate the skill and determination the Canisius team possesses, it shows how having a tough non-conference slate is crucial for a team to achieve success on a yearly basis.
Coming off a season in which the Griffs claimed their fifth MAAC championship in the last six years, Canisius will begin MAAC play, ready to continue their dominance over the conference.
Despite the fact that they’ve won the MAAC Championships on such a consistent basis, it’s also important to perform well in non-conference play because a team can spot their strengths and improve on their weaknesses before starting up conference play.
Manhattan, on the other hand, head into their first MAAC game in a different situation than Canisius. They’re off a rough 2-5 non-conference schedule and will face the reigning conference champions that already have some big wins this season.
Canisius head coach Scott Teeter said that Manhattan is currently in a rebuilding period, but stressed the importance of never overlooking an opponent, especially once MAAC play begins. He added how Manhattan has beaten top conference opponents before – and with every conference win holding importance – that each game matters for the team going forward.
Junior Erica Evans said that no matter the caliber and type of opponent they face each game, it’s always important to take one game at a time. She believes that it’s important to never overlook an opponent and to always treat each game equally.
Teeter went on to say that the goal for his team every year is to host the MAAC Tournament, which the top-seeded team in the conference holds the privilege of doing, unless they are an associate member to the MAAC. Teeter believes in order to accomplish that, the key is to go undefeated through MAAC play. In order to succeed in that, that test begins on Saturday (March 25) against Manhattan on the road.
Sophomore Jordan Roemer, in agreement with Evans, says that the coaching philosophy Teeter possesses is why the program has achieved the level of success that it has had throughout his tenure. She said he is also able to get the absolute best out of his players at each practice and game, which has helped him grow this program.
Roemer already has 17 goals and 26 points, earning a consistent starting role this season after starting in 14 of the team’s 20 games last year. She is becoming an important player for the program this year. Like so many before her, she has been a great contributor to the team’s success and why they always succeed year in and year out.
Evans believes that the type of team Teeter has built is why there are always players that can lead, which is important in achieving great success. She added that the great players that came before her exemplified what it means to lead a team on and off the field, and also be able to teach younger teammates how to do the same.
After a sophomore season that was not even close to a “sophomore slump”, the Peterborough, Ontario native scored a school-record 72 goals and 91 points. Through nine games in her junior campaign, Evans has already scored 29 goals and 37 points.
Although Canisius is considered the perennial powerhouse in the MAAC for women’s lacrosse, it’s always important to improve and grow each year. Against the Jaspers last year, the Griffs made a huge statement with a big 19-3 win at the Demske Sports Complex.
Playing on the road is a different story and Teeter said that it’s key to not let your guard down in a situation like that. He stressed how each MAAC win is crucial for their season and to not ignore opponents and treat each game throughout the regular season the same.
Canisius’ women’s lacrosse program has enjoyed huge amounts of success recently, including going unbeaten in MAAC competition during the regular season over the past two years.
The quest for a sixth MAAC title in seven years begins this weekend and will look to continue their storied success for nearly the last decade.