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  • The Griffin

Men’s soccer can’t hold halftime lead versus Red Flash

By: Adam Gorski

The Canisius men’s soccer team has struggled to take control and finish off close games throughout their non-conference schedule, and that same theme reared its ugly head on Sunday afternoon.

Two second-half goals propelled St. Francis (Pa.) to a 2-1 victory over the Griffs at Demske Sports Complex.

“We weren’t being creative enough,” Canisius head coach Dermot McGrane said. “We allowed them back into the game, basically … we possessed the ball better, but it was just useless possession.”

Against the run of play, Canisius struck first late in the first half.

After Federico Mereto was hauled down in the 18-yard box, the referee pointed to the spot and awarded the Griffs a penalty kick. Alessio Atzori stepped up and converted it, depositing the ball into the bottom right corner of the net and sending the goalkeeper the wrong way to put Canisius up 1–0 at halftime on its only shot of the first 45 minutes.

The Red Flash would strike back in the second half, however, as in the 64th minute, a swift move down the left wing resulted in Jeff Thielman rolling the ball across the face of goal, and it found the foot of Patrick Heron to beat Canisius keeper Will Howard and tie the match.

Seven minutes later, on the counterattack, Dallan Schoenberger played a perfect curling ball into the path of Elie Lubin, who connected perfectly off the half volley and scored the eventual game-winning goal.

The Griffs mustered two shot attempts in the final 15 minutes, but neither were on target, as the final shot attempts drastically favored the Red Flash, 24–3.

“We’ve got to start being dangerous,” coach McGrane said. “We were easy to defend against. We weren’t getting behind them on the attack enough.”

Up next for the Griffs is an extremely tough matchup at home, as No. 17/24 Bowling Green makes the trek up to Buffalo. This will be the first time Canisius has hosted a nationally ranked opponent since they played Loyola (Md.) on Oct. 12, 2008.

The Falcons have allowed just two goals in 742 minutes played this season, good for a .242 goals against average that ranks them third in all of Division I.

While the challenge of playing a team as talented as Bowling Green may be staggering, McGrane is confident his guys will play freely.

“We’ve got nothing to lose,” he said. “We are in the beautiful situation where nobody except the players in our locker room expect us to win.” McGrane suggested, “If we can keep this tight, we have enough forces up front that we can clip in some goals.”

After their matchup with the Falcons on Friday, the Griffs will shift into conference play, opening their MAAC schedule with a home game against Marist slated for 4 p.m. on Sept. 29.

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