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Women’s soccer looks to turn a new page with conference games

The Griffs will need to find more on the attack in order to change their fortunes, as they have tallied just three goals in seven matches. Credit: Canisius Athletics via GoGriffs

By: Griffin Della Penna

“It’s not about how you start — it’s about how you finish.”

That’s the mantra for Canisius College’s women’s soccer team as they enter the second half of their season this week into MAAC play. Adversity plays a significant role as to why the Griffs find themselves with a record of 0–5–2, but as head coach Ryan Louis said, “Things are on the up and coming together at the right time.”

After being an assistant under Todd Clark for two years, Louis was named interim manager during the less than ideal 2020-21 spring season. On April 30, 2021, Louis officially became the program’s sixth head coach and made it his mission to propel them into the conversation as one of the best teams in the conference.

Entering preseason in early August, the Blue and Gold were bringing back 91% of minutes played from the year prior with 19 returning players, including 13 upperclassmen and seven newcomers with the talent to make an immediate impact. With this all in mind, coach Louis wanted to challenge his team during the early part of the season with non-conference games, scheduling opponents that would get them ready for the games that matter down the stretch.

On Aug. 19, their first game against Big Four rival St. Bonaventure, the Griffs found themselves deadlocked at zero after 110 minutes of play for the draw. Canisius immediately went on a five-game road trip against extremely competitive opponents over a two-and-a-half-week period.

The Griffs found themselves without key players during this stretch: their best defender Maya Palmer, best forward Tiani Fonoti, starting goalkeeper Jessica Jones and brilliant playmaker Julia Schurr. Canisius also found themselves in many situations that were out of their control that hindered their preparation on game days, including thunderstorm delays against Cornell, traffic jams in New York City and being informed last minute that they were playing indoors against Robert Morris.

Combine all that, and the Griffs went 0–4–1 on the road, leading them into a match against UB’s Bulls, arguably the best opponent they would play all season. Luckily for Louis and the rest of the coaching staff, Canisius had all of their key players back in action on the pitch. Based on their personnel that returned from injury, it meant they could play their defensive-minded 4-2-3-1 formation and try to slow down the fast-paced Bulls attack.

To Canisius’ credit, after being down 2–0 in the first half after goals from Olivia Bizzoni and Hannah Callaghan, their defense stood tall for the final 45 minutes, which is a daunting task against a team that scored 10 goals in their last three games.

The Golden Griffs get a much-needed nine days of rest before hosting the Manhattan Jaspers (4–1) at the Demske Sports Complex on Saturday, Sept. 18, as they set out to land their first win of the season. Opening kickoff will be at 1 p.m. and will be broadcasted on the Golden Griffin Broadcast Network.

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