By Canio Marasco
The key to the Griffs succeeding towards the end of this tumultuous season will be a needed improvement in confidence.
The Griffs have opened conference play with a poor 0-5-0 record and also currently sit in last place in the MAAC. Despite starting the season 3-3-1, the Griffs have collapsed in conference play, dropping five straight games. The last three losses have all been by one goal, which is very demoralizing for a team on a losing streak. In these last three losses, the Griffs have suffered from a lack of offensive production, while the defense has played tremendously.
Coach McGrane, when asked how the team can improve their record, stated, “Our finishing needs to improve. We are creating a lot of chances to score, but we’re not scoring. And you can’t win unless you score.” The team has been held without a goal in the last three games, all of which ended 1-0.
In their last fixture, the Griffs lost to Iona 1-0 in double overtime. Iona was able to improve their conference record to 3-3-0, placing them square in the middle of the MAAC standings. Coach McGrane, on this match, said, “I thought that we had better chances than they did. But, we made one defensive error and that resulted in a goal. Iona is a good team, but our lack of scoring is still an issue.” Daniel Huerta, of Iona, won the game by scoring off of his own rebound, which was his eleventh shot of the night.
After defeating the Griffs, Iona was able to beat Marist, a team that currently sits in second place in the MAAC. Thus, Coach McGrane agreed that the defensive error was enough for the solid Iona squad to pick-up the victory. Despite a nearly perfect defensive performance, the Griffs gave up a poor goal in overtime, negating their many chances, and cementing another demoralizing loss.
The Griffs next game is against Quinnipiac, who currently sits towards the bottom of the MAAC, with a 1-2-2 conference record. Coach McGrane, on the match-up, stated, “We need to score goals. Quinnipiac is a very good defensive team. They don’t score many goals, but they also don’t give-up many either. We just have to be clinical; when we have chances we need to score.” The tough defensive team, Quinnipiac, could prove to be very difficult for the offensively challenged Griffs. Quinnipiac is currently only allowing 1.58 goals per game, a very low average. Concurrently, they are limiting their opponents’ opportunities by only allowing about half of their shot attempts to reach the goal frame.
Senior, Chris Berardi, has been a bright spot this season for the Griffs. The senior has totaled eight points this year, leading the team. Coach McGrane said that he still feels the Griffs have a talented squad. Berardi is a great example of the talent the team possesses that could produce more needed offense towards the end of the season. Impressively, he has been able to total a team leading three goals, while only taking fourteen shots.
Coach McGrane, on the state of his team, stated, “I think we’re in our own heads right now. I still think that we are one of the best, if not the best team in the league. But we’re just not clicking. I think if we get a win, it will settle us down, and we could go on a run.” The unit that Coach McGrane is most apprehensive about is the offense: despite having multiple offensive opportunities against Iona, the team still wasn’t able to score. These many missed opportunities proved to McGrane that his team simply isn’t working cohesively or “clicking.”
Coach McGrane brought up the idea of his team “not clicking” several times. Although he believes the team is very talented, he simply isn’t seeing the production and output that is expected. The offense has only produced eleven goals this season, while the defense has conceded seventeen. Surprisingly, however, the team has produced forty-eight shots on goal, while only yielding fifty-seven. For a team that isn’t being outshot heavily, they haven’t scored many goals, in comparison to their opponents. This harkens to the point that Coach McGrane explained, the Griffs simply haven’t been clinical.
Looking to the end of the season, Coach McGrane stated, “I’m not worried because everyone goes to the conference tournament. And we are well capable of winning four games in a row. I certainly am not worried.” Although everyone makes the tournament, at some point the Griffs have to show that they truly can be a dangerous team on the pitch. The opportunity for the Griffs to re-gain their confidence and revitalize their season could be found in their next game against Quinnipiac.