By Canio Marasco
The Griffs men’s soccer, after suffering four one-goal losses, felt almost defeated and were nearly out of ideas on how to increase offensive production.
After playing a stretch of three fixtures, where the team lost each match 1-0, the Griffs had dropped to the bottom of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The Griffs weren’t being outplayed or even outshot heavily, they simply weren’t scoring. Coach McGrane stated that the team simply wasn’t being clinical with their opportunities and the offense wasn’t “clicking.”
These continuous 1-0 losses were tough on the Griffs and their morale, Coach McGrane said, “It’s frustrating because we played well in all three games. But, the boys always tried to stay positive and understood that goals would start going in.”
The Griffs, despite their losses, played well defensively and produced opportunities each game. In their last loss, the Griffs were defeated in double overtime, simply because of a defensive error, not because they were the inferior team.
Despite that taxing losing streak, the Griffs have rebounded strongly from their slump. In their game against Quinnipiac, the Griffs finally snapped their poor form, and won 1-0. Coach McGrane, on the match said, “We didn’t do much different. The guys always have good work ethic, but my thing with them is that they always need to have that desire to win. It’s not just about working hard, one has to do that little extra in front of goal, to score more goals.”
This was a game that Coach McGrane knew would be tough, as the defense of Quinnipiac had been stout previously. The Griffs’ many shots on target, but lack of goals, points to the idea of the team needing to do “that little extra” to find offense, which finally happened in this game.
Notwithstanding the Griffs win against Quinnipiac, the team still only produced one goal. This is rather worrisome for a team that has struggled mightily to create any offense. Coach McGrane, sternly, stated, “One goal was enough. As long as we win, I don’t care. The way we played, with the attitude we carried…we’re looking more dangerous and look like we possess a greater ability to score.” Coach McGrane furthered his point, by saying, “We scored one at Quinnipiac and two against Niagara. I think we’re solving the problem.” The Griffs were rather clinical with their opportunities against Quinnipiac, as they scored their only goal off of four shots on target.
After this emotional victory, the Griffs took their rejuvenated confidence into a rivalry game against Niagara. Coach McGrane stated that the team went into the Quinnipiac game with a different mindset, which they also then carried into the Niagara game as well. The Griffs were able to defeat Niagara handily, by the score of 2-0. Senior Nicolo Baudo notched both goals for the Griffs.
Coach McGrane, on the great performance, stated, “We were just being more dangerous. I think early on in the season we only possessed the ball, specifically in front of the defense, but now we’re getting in behind the defense, which is starting to create problems for our opponents.”
The first goal that the Griffs scored was a deep cross, over the defense, which Baudo deflected into the net. The second goal was a superlative strike by Baudo from 20 yards out, which harkens to the idea that the Griffs are simply trying to be more dangerous with the ball and their opportunities.
These two wins have improved the Griffs conference record to 2-5, which places them in ninth in the MAAC. Their next game is against St. Peter’s, who currently sits in fourth place, with a respectable record of 4-3.
In St. Peter’s last game, the Peacock’s lost 2-1 to Iona. They were completely outmatched, and outshot rather heavily. The Griffs, previously, played Iona tightly, only losing 1-0 in double overtime. St. Peter’s has used their high-powered offense to win games, as opposed to the Griffs, who generally rely on strong defense and goalkeeping. In their fourteen games this season, St. Peter’s has scored 21 goals, whereas the Griffs have only scored 14.
Coach McGrane, on the match-up, stated, “St. Peter’s field is awful, so I’m really nervous about its condition. So, that will be a large determinant in how we play. If it’s really bad, we can’t pass the ball around, and we’ll have to be more direct. But, I think that we have a lot more weapons than they do.”
The poor playing conditions could prove to be tough, as St. Peter’s has won most of their games by relying on their offense and their ability to produce several goals a game. At home, St. Peter’s is 5-1-1, a record that might be bolstered by their ability and understanding on how to play on their inferior pitch.
The Griffs have a great opportunity to make-up ground in the MAAC, with a win against St. Peter’s. Looking to their next game, Coach McGrane stated, “It’s going to be a tough game, but we’re going to do our best to win.”