A year in sports

By Adam Duke

Assistant Sports Editor

As is typical of all sports programs, Canisius athletics had its ups and downs in the 2016-17 season.

In the fall, the men’s cross country team finished in second place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The Iona Gaels dominated the race, taking spots one through eight. Galen Snyder placed first for the Griffs and 16th overall. The team placed second, despite no Griff being named All-Conference, as none finished in the top 15. Late in the race, the Griffs battled back to take second.

The women’s cross country team finished fourth in their MAAC Championship race, as sophomore Siobhan Quinn finished first overall, with a time of 21:19.30. The team improved from their 2015 finish, as they took sixth place last year.

The Canisius volleyball team began their season under new leadership, with head coach Lenika Vazquez at the helm of the program this year. The team finished 5-13 in the MAAC in this year’s campaign. Seniors Katlyn Tyler and Jacklyn Malusa led the team in kills with 272 and 199, respectively. Freshman Cassidy Ceriani recorded 787 assists and earned two Rookie of the Week Awards. Ceriani also earned All-Rookie team honors and Tyler was named to the All-MAAC second team.

The men’s soccer team lost to the Quinnipiac Bobcats in the semifinals of the MAAC tournament this season after finishing 4-3-3 in the MAAC.  Matthew Santos recorded a total of 13 points on 69 shots. Goalkeeper Marco Trivellato let in 18 shots on 93 attempts from opponents. Defender Thomas Teupen and midfielder Melvin Blair received All-Region honors upon the conclusion of the season.

Women’s soccer finished 6-4 in the MAAC, losing 3-0 in the first round of the MAAC tournament to the Bobcats, who finished the season as the tournament’s runner-up. Freshman Gretta Dry led the team with eight goals on 34 shots, in addition to four assists for a total of 20 points. Dry was also named to the MAAC’s All-Rookie team. Goaltender Alana Rossi made 61 saves on 86 shots, recording a .500 win percentage throughout the season.

The Griffs’ rowing team finished first in all events at three of four races in the early goings, racing in 5K races. They finished second at the Mercyhurst Invitational and in late October, finished 20th at the Head of the Charles. Though the Griffs succeeded against other MAAC schools, out of conference competition proved to be a challenge.

In the fall, the golf team finished next-to-last in three tournaments and last in two. In their only head-to-head matchup, the Griffs dropped a contest to Niagara University, losing by six strokes.

Come winter, the Griffs hockey team witnessed their first Division I regular season title after a campaign that included a 17-game unbeaten streak. Coach Dave Smith won the MAAC Coach of the Year award and netminder Charles Williams was a top 10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. Williams and fellow senior Geoff Fortman signed professional contracts at the end of the year. Following the season, Smith also left the Griffs to pursue coaching at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The Griffs also got the chance to compete against first-ranked North Dakota to open the season.

In their first season under head coach Reggie Witherspoon, the men’s basketball team finished sixth in the MAAC with a record of 10-10, despite a ninth place ranking in the preseason poll. Over the course of the season, the Griffs took on the nation’s second-ranked Kentucky Wildcats in non-conference play. At halftime, the Griffs were just nine points behind the Wildcats. Canisius, along with Niagara and the MAAC, also hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament. The Griffs also defeated Witherspoon’s former team, the University at Buffalo Bulls, in the Big 4 Classic held at KeyBank Center. Kassius Robertson led the Griffs with a total of 548 points, followed by Jermaine Crumpton, who finished with 539.

Women’s basketball finished 8-12 in the MAAC, making their way to the second round of the MAAC Tournament. Canisius was eliminated by the Quinnipiac Bobcats, 63-58. The Bobcats went on to advance to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. Sara Hinriksdottir led the team in both points (453) and rebounds (179).

In swimming and diving, Rebecca Anthone, Marissa Watroba, and Travis Wright each won individual championships at the MAAC Championships. Anthone won the women’s 200 free, Watroba was victorious in the women’s 100 breast, and Wright scored a 357.75 in the men’s three-meter diving event to claim his fourth MAAC title.

The Griffs indoor track season was also quite successful, with Quinn, Carlin Sullivan, Haley Virginia, and Haley Keene setting a school record in the women’s distance medley relay, which also won third overall at the Youngstown State meet. Sullivan also set the school’s 5K record at the same meet. For the men’s team, Cooper Roach finished first in the 3K.

Similarly, the current spring sports season is shaping up positive for the Griffs. The baseball team has won their past five MAAC games. They finished second in the conference last year, and currently reside in the same position. Jake Lumley leads the team in hits with 59 and J.P. Stevenson leads all Griffs pitchers in wins with six.

The softball team has a chance to make the playoffs, but will need a sweep in this weekend’s series against the Marist Red Foxes to keep those possibilities alive. Sophomore utility player Lauren Castro leads the Golden Griffins with 50 hits, 25 of which have been for extra bases. Pitcher Erika Mackie is the frontrunner for wins on the team with eight. In addition to MAAC competition, the Griffs faced the first-ranked Florida State Seminoles.

Recently, the men’s lacrosse team clinched their spot in the MAAC tournament, despite being defeated by the Monmouth Hawks. Connor Kearnan has netted 30 goals for the Griffs and has added 23 assists to lead the Blue and Gold in points (53).

Canisius’ most consistent team, women’s lacrosse, is attempting to repeat their success from years prior. They have competed in each of the past six MAAC championships, winning five. This year will be their fourth in a row hosting the tournament. They also have a 24-game unbeaten streak in MAAC dating back to the 2014 season. With 66 goals and 25 assists, Erica Evans leads the Griffs with 91 points. Lauren Smolensky leads in assists with 39.

Regarding the track team, the outdoor season has been going well. Sullivan broke another school record at the Bucknell Classic on April 15. Kayla Stewart and Rachel Weissenburg finished 16th and 21st in the 3K event. Roach once again finished strong, capturing eighth place in the 800-meter event, attaining the fourth fastest time in Canisius history.

Despite defeating the RIT Tigers in the varsity four and third varsity eight regattas, the Griffs rowing team was bested in in the varsity eight and the second varsity eight. The rowing MAAC Championships will take place in West Windsor Township, N.J. on May 12.

At the MAAC Golf Championships, freshman David Hanes shot an even-par 72 to become the first Canisius freshman to finish in the top five, taking third place. As a whole, the team posted a 936 score, finishing eighth overall.

As far as Canisius sports seasons go, this has been a very good year for the Griffs and is shaping up to have a successful ending.

“There’s right spots everywhere,” said Sports Editor Emeritus Dominic Chamberlain, “From Charles, to the women’s lacrosse team, to Crump, to Siobhan Quinn. There’s been so many things this year across all sports and all seasons that give the Griffs that ‘it factor.’ Almost every sport gave some reason to watch it and that’s something I hadn’t seen in my three years here.”

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