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  • The Griffin

“Extravagant” performance leads Women’s Soccer to first MAAC win

By: Patrick Healy, Managing Editor

Coming into its match against Rider University, Canisius’ women’s soccer team hadn’t won an opening MAAC match since 2016. They hadn’t defeated a MAAC opponent at all since March 2021. These streaks ended on Saturday. The Golden Griffins beat the Broncos to secure their first conference-opening win in a half decade and their first overall conference win in 18 months.

Last week, against non-conference opponent Cleveland State, it took 60 minutes for the Golden Griffins to put away one of their many chances. This time, the team found success early. A 10th-minute Tiani Fonoti backpost cross found Jen Romero, whose header into the bottom corner put Canisius ahead 1–0. But, unlike last week, one goal would not be enough.

With 15 minutes left in the game, Rider’s Hannah Freeman slid a shot into the same corner of the net which Romero had scored on in the first half. After the Rider goal, Canisius head coach Ryan Louis substituted the goal-scoring Romero back in. Five minutes later, with a defender at her back and facing away from the Rider goal, Romero kicked a ball over her own head — and over that of the Rider goalkeeper.

Canisius did not relinquish the resulting 2–1 lead. After the game, Romero was lifted in the air by her teammates and paraded across the field to the 112 in attendance.

Romero told The Griffin postgame that, coming into the match versus Rider, “I just wanted to do something extravagant. Something great to show that I should be starting. From the beginning, this whole week, that was my plan: to score more than one goal.”

Smiling, the senior striker also admitted, “I’ve always wanted to score a bicycle kick in Division 1.”

Freshman forward Mia Iacona, who led the team in shots, broke in to say that the bicycle kick is Romero’s signature move. “Whenever we do shooting [practice], Jenny’s always trying to do that cheeky ball over the goalie,” Iacona added, “Jenny works so hard in practice [and] whenever she gets playing time on the field. I definitely look up to her and always want to work as hard as her. Even though she doesn’t get all the minutes, it’s quality over quantity.”

However it happened, coach Louis was happy that the ball got in the back of the net. Louis frequently substituted forwards throughout the match, but he made sure Romero was on the field after the Rider goal. Louis “thought [Romero] would, if not score, then at least create an opportunity, and she did that.” Asked about his aggressive substitution strategy, Louis said, “we ask a lot defensively from our forwards, so it’s difficult [for them] to play a full 90 minutes.”

Moving forward, Romero has no doubt about what her role should be. Speaking of her two goals, she said the Rider game was “my first start of the season, so it just shows I should be starting.” Coach Louis, though pleased with Romero’s performance, was slightly more circumspect about its effect on the starting lineup.

“Last week [against Cleveland State] Jen had a good game, and I brought her off the field, and she was a little disappointed she came off the field. She put two goals in today, so fair play to her,” Louis said with a laugh. Turning serious, he said that “you can’t score two goals and not play, so she’s gonna get another opportunity. That’s what we want from our players. We want a reaction. We want them to compete. Nothing’s guaranteed here.”

Canisius remains undefeated (3-0-1) at home on the season, but will face their toughest test yet as they next host Quinnipiac, which has the best non-conference record in the MAAC and defeated Niagara University 4-0 in its first MAAC game. It has been eight years since Canisius’s last victory over Quinnipiac. Kickoff is Friday the 23rd at 1:00 at the Demske Complex.

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