The Manhattan College men’s lacrosse team faced a tough task heading into the fourth period of its game against the Canisius Golden Griffs. What had been a 6-5 lead at halftime had turned completely upside down, into an 11-6 deficit.
As the Jaspers started to chip away at the Griffs’ lead in the fourth, it seemed the comeback would be complete. But the Jaspers fell short. A goal by Jeff Edwards with less than two minutes remaining gave Canisius a 12-10 lead, which it would hold onto for the win.
“I love my guys, they play their tails off and they don’t quit,” Manhattan head coach Drew Kelleher said. “I’ll tell you what, if we can start matching our execution with our energy, we’re going to be a tough out for anybody.”
The Jaspers entered the fourth trailing 11-6, after a disappointing third period in which they gave up six unanswered goals. Defensively, the Jaspers struggled to create turnovers and get the ball back. Offensively, the Jaspers did very little, attempting just four shots.
“I think it starts at the faceoff,” Kelleher said about the performance in the third period. “They kind of took control there and then their defense actually got some kills. We just couldn’t get the ball and transition to offense very fluid.”
But what plagued the Jaspers in the third period disappeared in the fourth. It took Manhattan some time to start the comeback, but with nine minutes remaining, Matt Garvey picked up a goal that gave Manhattan some hope.
Just 16 seconds later, Parker Giarratana found the back of the net, making the game 11-8. Garvey and Giarratana would take turns, each scoring once more, and with six minutes to play, the Jaspers found themselves down just 11-10.
The Jaspers threatened to score several times, forcing some saves from Canisius, but could not get the goal that would tie the game. With less than two minutes to play, Edwards scored, clinching a 12-10 win for the Griffs.
Despite the loss, Kelleher sees some positives, as Manhattan’s defense played perhaps its best game all season.
“Our defense is improving game by game,” Kelleher said. “This was their lowest goals against output . … I think it’s a full team thing. Offensively we have to do some things better too.”
After starting the season 2-2, the Jaspers have lost five games consecutively. With only five games remaining, the Jaspers know they must pick up some wins in order to qualify for the MAAC Tournament.
But the schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Jaspers, who host the defending champions in Quinnipiac next Saturday.
“Next week is going to be great,” Kelleher said. “The beauty of our league is everybody is very equal and there’s a lot of parody. Quinnipiac is obviously the defending champ, and we’re excited to get our hands on them.”