Stuck in the middle: Clark’s crew jammed into fourth place tie

By: Robert Janish

Senior Sports Writer

After the first three games of their 2015 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference schedule, the Golden Griffins sit at 1-2. The Griffs also find themselves in the midst of a three-way tie for fourth place overall, with the Siena Saints and Marist Red Foxes. The Griffs beat the Red Foxes in overtime 2-1 on Wednesday to earn their first conference win of the year.

However, the first two games for the team’s conference schedule were not as successful. The Griffs were shutout a combined 9-0 in their first two conference games against the Manhattan Jaspers and Monmouth Hawks. These first two MAAC games were not the start to conference play that head coach Todd Clark and his staff were looking for.

The Griffs first conference game of 2015 was a 4-0 loss to the Manhattan Jaspers; not really the start the Griffs had in mind. Despite the result, the Griffs had high hopes of going to Monmouth and beating one of the top teams in the MAAC on their home turf. That did not come to pass either as they beat the Griffs 5-0 to conclude a four-game road trip for the Griffs.

Although it was a rough start to MAAC play for the Griffs, the first home game for Canisius against a conference opponent, went their way with a 2-1 overtime win against the Red Foxes. It was freshman Emily Kuta who provided the late heroics for the Griffs and the first MAAC win of the season. Senior goalkeeper Kailee De Franks definitely came through for her team as well, earning eleven saves in the victory.

With this win, Canisius will stay at home for their next game, which will take place this Sunday against the Fairfield Stags. Then, the Griffs will head out on the road to square off against the Rams and the Iona Gaels. The next three opponents for the Griffs have a combined conference record of 1-5-1 thus far, so it will be quite intriguing to see how the team can play during this next stretch of games.

As of right now, the Griffs are in the middle of the pack through the first three games of the conference season.  Tied for the lead in the MAAC thus far are Monmouth and our arch rival Niagara University Purple Eagles, each with a conference record of 3-0.

Right behind them in the standings are the Jaspers, who currently have a 2-0-1 record, with the Rider University Broncos  sharing the same amount of wins, but are currently at 2-1 in the MAAC.

However some teams in the MAAC that find themselves at the bottom of the standings and already have a long way to go if they want to get back to the top. The Fairfield Stags, Iona Gaels and St. Peter’s all currently have zero victories and hope to change that fact real soon on the field.

When it comes to other statistics such as the amount of goals scored by a team, the Monmouth Hawks lead that department as well, scoring an astonishing 11 goals in their first three games of MAAC play, while only allowing two goals so far against conference foes. They are followed by their fellow undefeated squad Niagara, who has scored nine goals and allowed four.

The least amount of goals scored is by the St. Peter’s Peacocks, scoring only four but allowing thirteen, including eight in a shutout loss to Rider last Wednesday. However, the Griffs through three conference games, have only scored two goals, both coming in their home win against Marist, while allowing ten goals in that same stretch.

There are a couple players that the Griffs should watch for throughout the rest of the season especially when they play in the MAAC. Erica Murphy of Monmouth has scored four goals, while Haillie Price of Niagara has scored three along with Andrea Pereira of Siena. These three lead the conference in scoring.

If those three players can be limited on the field, Coach Clark and his squad will have a better chance at winning against those particular teams and hopefully advance up the conference ladder.

The Griffs next three opponents, and a good majority of the remaining opponents, are winnable matchups. Another good thing for the Griffs is that they have already played two of the top three teams in the league Manhattan and Monmouth. Only rival Niagara remains of the top conference teams the Griffs are yet to face.

If the Griffs can play in the form they did against Marist, that resulted in an overtime win, they could definitely wind up with a good conference record and be able to better themselves for the playoffs once the season concludes.
After earning his first MAAC win as Canisius head coach, it will be intriguing to see how coach Clark can get his team to respond to the win. Hopefully the Griffs will be able to pile up the victories as they continue their season with the hopes of winning the conference when it’s all said and done.

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