Miyashita, Griffs vying for MAAC Tourney bid

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Canisius will look to earn a spot in the MAAC Tournament under first-year head coach Mark Miyashita. (Tom Wolf/Canisius College)

By Canio Marasco III

Sports Reporter

The Canisius men’s lacrosse team has a chance to clinch a spot in the MAAC playoffs this weekend with a win against the Manhattan Jaspers.

The Griffs had an opportunity to earn their third conference win of the season this past weekend against the Quinnipiac Bobcats, who entered the game in first-place in the MAAC.

The game started with both teams trading pairs of goals in the first quarter, as the frame ended deadlocked, 4-4. After trading two more goals, the Bobcats went on a six-goal run to take the lead into the half, 11-6.

In the third frame, the Bobcats went on a seven-goal spurt, increasing their lead, 19-7. In the final quarter, the Griffs went of a seven-goal run of their own but their comeback fell short, as they lost, 19-14.

Coach Mark Miyashita said the loss was disappointing, as the Griffs’ showed they could play with the Bobcats in the fourth quarter, but simply had several lapses in concentration which ultimately led to their defeat.

“The first quarter was great,” said Miyashita. “We traded goals and had a couple opportunities to possibly be ahead at the end of the quarter. To start the second quarter, we traded goals back and forth. Then, they went on that six-goal run – and when we watched the film, one goal out of those that six was earned goals by Quinnipiac, and five of them were mistakes.

“When we looked at the film as a group, we beat ourselves in that game. … We had a great comeback, in terms of getting some goals, and getting some momentum – showing that when we’re on our game, we could compete.”

The Griffs conceding a large amount of goals has become a growing and concerning trend this season.

The Griffs have allowed 162 goals this season, while only scoring 137. At one point, the Griffs’ boasted one of the worst defenses statistically in the nation.

Despite the poor defensive performance, Miyashita said the poor play, even against the Bobcats, can’t solely be placed on the backend.

“It was everywhere,” he said. “They got a couple goals, and won a couple of faceoffs back-to-back and were able to get a quick couple on us. And, then when we did get the ball, we tried forcing something that wasn’t there, instead of taking our time to set-up and getting our personnel on. We forced the issue. It was a break down in all three facets – our defense, offense and special teams.”

The Griffs next game is against Manhattan, who have yet to win a game in conference play.

With two games left in the season, the Griffs control their own destiny. They currently sit fourth in the conference at 2-2, and Marist is in fifth at 2-3.

If the Griffs win one of their final two games, they will clinch a spot in the postseason. If they lose out, and the Red Foxes win their last game, the Griffs will be on the outside looking in.

Miyashita said the Griffs can’t take the Jaspers lightly, especially with the implications the game has on their postseason status.

“I think there’s a lot that can help to carry us,” said Miyashita. “We didn’t finish on a sour note against Quinnipiac, and we had some momentum at the end of the game. We’ve come into practice this week with positive thinking and positive vibes. We know we have another opportunity and we’re back at home. And, you can’t sleep on anyone in this league. Manhattan has played teams tough.”

Miyashita said that having two games to clinch a spot in the MAAC playoffs is nice – it takes the pressure off the team. But, ideally, the Griffs want to take care of their business as soon as possible.

Put simply, Miyashita said he’s happy with the season, but he won’t be content until the Griffs are in the playoffs.

“It’s a huge piece of motivation,” said Miyashita. “To be able to control our own density, clinch a spot in the conference tournament, and then still have another game afterwards – for seeding purposes – it’s really about going out there and handling our business and controlling our destiny. Our backs aren’t against the wall, but we want to handle everything now.”

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