WS: Manhattan 1, Canisius 2
by Pete Janny, Asst. Sports Editor
Saturday’s MAAC opener versus the Canisius Golden Griffins (6-3, 2-1 MAAC) provided the Manhattan College women’s soccer team (1-7, 0-1 MAAC) an opportunity to get on the right track now that conference play is upon us. Through six games, the Jaspers had only one win under their belt with five of their games decided by only one goal.
In what was an exciting battle, the Golden Griffins escaped Gaelic Park with a narrow 2-1 win. After tying the score in the 44th minute off of a goal from sophomore Eve Montgomery, the Jaspers conceded a lucky goal in the 81st minute that proved to be the difference.
There’s no question Canisius was the better side in the opening minutes. What stood out the most was how aggressive the Golden Griffins were on the offensive end.
In the 5th minute, Canisius neutralized the Manhattan defense via the counter attack when junior Shauna Lee gained possession of the ball after a Manhattan corner kick and dribbled the length of the field before firing a shot from inside the box that was easily handled by Camryn Nici. The early fireworks weren’t done yet as Cansius got on the board first four minutes later on a header from Lee. The score was made possible off a nice corner-kick from freshman Lexi Perry.
The Manhattan began to show some promise midway through the first half in hopes evening the scoreline. Dribbling in the right side of the box in the 23rd minute, Manhattan junior Tia Painilainen squeezed a pretty pass to classmate Bri DeLeo whose shot from the top of the box gave the Canisius goalie little trouble. Manhattan threatened again in the 30th minute when DeLeo sent a nice ball into the box off a corner kick that found its way to junior Arianna Montefusco, but the play was thwarted by a handball call on Montefusco.
Sophomore Eve Montgomery and junior Lindsay Healy gave Manhattan a big boost off the bench with their energy and fight.
In the 35th minute, Healy hit Montgomery in stride with a nice through ball that resulted in a shot from the latter that went wide right of the net. One could argue that Montgomery was tripped on her shot, but the referee saw nothing illegal. Moments later, Healy tried tracking down a loose ball in the Canisius box, but was barred from getting to the ball by a defender who got away with a push. Still upset by the previous no-call, the Manhattan fans were beginning to lose their patience with the main referee.
The closing stages of the first half was highlighted by an impressive equalizer from Montgomery on a play in which she collided with the goalkeeper about 25 yards out. After beating the goalie to a loose ball in the air, Montgomery made contact with the ball just before colliding with the goalie. She somehow managed to get enough height on the ball to send it over the goalie’s head and into the back of the net. After laying in agony for a few moments, Montgomery got up and was greeted with thunderous applause as she walked slowly back to the Manhattan bench. Justice was served as the goalie was assessed a yellow card for the violent hit. Good news is Montgomery did check back in later in the game.
The first half came to a close with the game tied at one as Manhattan outshot Canisius 5-3 for the half. As it turns out, the second half was far less interesting than the first.
Even though both offenses took a step back in the second half, most of the action still seemed to take place on Canisius’s own half. All the while, Nici looked confident and composed in net, running up her save total on some harmless shots by Canisius.
Canisius’s offense could best be described as an “enigma” on this day. Even though they ended up being outshot 10-6 on the afternoon, Canisius was able to secure the game-winner in the 80th minute when Alicia Larsson Vahlberg’s shot from 35 yards out surprised Nici and snuck under the crossbar to put the Golden Griffins on top for good. It was a painful ending for Manhattan considering the fact that they were the better side for most of the game.
Despite the loss, head coach Brendan Lawler was proud of his team’s effort and the improvement they showed on offense.
“We are moving the ball quicker. We got people in behind today and had a lot of dangerous opportunities,” Lawler said in a postgame interview with Go Jaspers. “Unfortunately we play a sport where the ball can bounce the wrong way and then you end up with a result you weren’t hoping for.”
Manhattan’s next two MAAC games will be played on the road as they will visit Monmouth on Wednesday, October 2nd before heading upstate to play Niagara on Saturday, October 5th.