Laxers drop pair to Detroit, Robert Morris

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Connor Kearnan, the leading scorer in the MAAC, and Canisius will face Quinnipiac on Saturday in Hamden, Conn. (Tom Wolf/Canisius College)

By Canio Marasco III

Sports Reporter

The Canisius men’s lacrosse team hosted the Detroit Mercy Titans and Robert Morris Colonials this past week, as they move ever closer to the end of the regular season.

The Griffs entered the game against the Titans with a record of 2-0 in the conference, looking to bolster their place in the MAAC standings. The Griffs started the game well, jumping out to a 4-1 lead. The Griffs were able to hold onto a one-goal lead going into the second half, 6-5.

Despite dominating play for several stretches during the game, the Griffs only held a 9-6 lead heading into the final quarter. However, in the fourth, the Griffs’ defense collapsed, as they allowed five goals, losing their first MAAC contest, 12-10.

Canisius found themselves in an unfamiliar spot in the fourth quarter, because for one of the first times this season, the Griffs were trying to preserve a lead instead of playing catch-up. Coach Mark Miyashita said the Griffs certainly didn’t handle the situation as well as they should have.

“It was a combination of things,” Miyashita said. “Detroit Mercy was playing really well. And, I think we were experiencing something we haven’t experienced all year. We were playing with a small lead in the fourth quarter. Usually were the team that’s clawing their way back into the game. Detroit was us earlier in the year. It was an opportunity to learn how to play with a small lead. Obviously, we didn’t come out on top, but I think we learned something from it.”

In their last non-conference game of the season, the Griffs hosted Robert Morris, who entered the game as the No. 19 ranked team in the country.

Despite being outmatched, the Griffs played the Colonials tough. Much like their previous game, the Griffs jumped out to an earlier 4-1 lead.

Although the Colonials picked up their play in the second quarter, the Griffs were able to carry a lead into the half, 5-4.

Despite playing well enough in the first three quarters to earn the upset, the Griffs faltered in the fourth quarter, again. The Colonials scored five goals in the final frame to win the game, 11-9.

Considering the national ranking of the Colonials, a two-goal loss shows that the Griffs can compete with some of the top teams in the country. However, Canisius had a real chance to upset the No. 19 ranked team in the country.

Miyashita said the game showed growth but was disappointing in the end.

“I’m not happy with the result – a loss is a loss,” said Miyashita. “But, in terms of our guys playing on one day’s preparation against Robert Morris, the 19th ranked team in the country, it was great.

“The attitude, the energy and the effort from the guys that were playing, and from the guys on the bench, was tremendous. We hung tough with them and had some opportunities. It was a great back-and-forth game.”  

A facet of the Griffs game that has nagged them throughout the season has been their poor defense. At one point, they had the worst ranked defense in the country. Miyashita said it isn’t fair to blame the Griffs woes this season solely on the defense.

“I think it’s a combination of things,” said Miyashita. “I wouldn’t necessarily say that the defense has been our weakest part. It’s a combination of factors. Our face-off percentage hasn’t been where we’d like it to be. So, that means our defense is going to play that much more because you have less possessions. So, I wouldn’t malign or put anything on the defense.”

Put simply, the Griffs defense has been put under a considerable amount of stress. When they have to defend more, it follows that they will give up more goals. Miyashita stressed that to improve the defense, the team needs to improve as a whole.

He pointed to the game against Marist (March 31), where the Griffs allowed a season-low five goals. In that game, not only was the offense clicking but the defense wasn’t under undue stress, as they were able to win a majority of the face-offs.

This glimmer of hope is certainly something for the Griffs to build on as they close out the season. The Griffs (5-6 overall, 2-1 MAAC) take on conference foe, Quinnipiac, tomorrow in Hamden, Conn. Faceoff is set for 1 p.m.

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