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As a freshman, Tori Quinn learned from her older sister. She watched Carly rewrite the Canisius women’s lacrosse record book last year and lead the Golden Griffins to the second of their back-to-back Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships.

Now in her sophomore year, Tori is taking over where Carly left off.

Quinn leads Canisius with 67 points (42 goals, 25 assists) and has helped guide the Griffs to their first undefeated season in MAAC play. Three of their losses this season were to teams in the top 20 nationally. Canisius (12-4, 6-0) enters the conference championships as the No. 1 seed, facing Siena at 4:30 p.m. in today’s semifinal in Poughkeepsie. Fairfield and Marist meet in the other semifinal with the winners playing for an NCAA tournament spot at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Quinn is averaging 4.19 points a game – the best in the MAAC and 22nd nationally. Those 67 points are only 11 shy of the single-season record of 78 set by sister Carly last year. Her performance earned her MAAC Offensive Player of the Year honors at Thursday’s tournament awards presentation.

But for Tori, the success is a result of an evolution of her game and an acceptance of new roles to help the Canisius program continue to grow.

She spent her high school career as a midfielder, and moved to attack last year on the opposite side of her sister. She scored 20 goals and was named to the All-MAAC rookie team and was second team all-conference. This year, she’s moved to her strong side, which has her more comfortable and better able to create offense.

“Carly was really a mentor for me last year,” Tori said. “She helped me a lot and then I moved into her position this year. She was the main feeder. Everything went through her, all our plays. And now that’s switched over to me. Most of our plays go back through behind me. This year I have a bigger role to play. And I have more of the go-ahead from coach [Scott Teeter]. I think that’s why I’ve been able to put more points on the board.”

But it’s not just skill and position that has helped Quinn become an offensive powerhouse. It’s the way she’s embraced other nuances of the game, including understanding things like score and situation.

“She’s had a phenomenal year. Tori has done a great job of minimizing her mistakes and distributing the ball,” Teeter said. “I think for Tori, the difference was decision-making and putting decision-making in her hands – when to distribute the ball, if the cutter is open, when not to distribute the ball – and we use her experience and knowledge of the game. She can slow it down or pick it up and control the game clock. That’s where she has really exceeded my expectations this year.”

The Griffs are trying to become the first team to win three straight MAAC titles. While the offense has been impressive, the defense is pretty good, too. Sophomore goalie Kayla Scully ranks first nationally with a .533 save percentage and ranks fifth nationally with a 7.28 goals against average.

Senior midfielder Morgan Leonard ranks second in the NCAA with 2.75 caused turnovers per game while also netting 49 goals.

Spring success

It’s been quite a spring for several teams in the Big 4. Here’s a look at some of the outstanding performances as programs head into the postseason:

UB baseball: The Bulls (24-17) have set a school record for wins in a season since resuming the sport upon entering the Mid-American Conference in 1999. Those 24 games won are the most since the program won 32 in 1980. They also have the best record in the MAC (13-4).

The Bulls have been impressive in recent years at the plate, but the success this season has been bolstered on the mound. The team’s 3.82 ERA is the lowest in the MAC era. Starters Mike Burke (6-2) and Anthony Megovney (5-3) have been solid and River McWilliams (2.95 ERA) and Ben Hartz (4-1, 1.29) have been impressive out of the bullpen.

The Bulls host Ohio (11-31, 6-12) for games Friday at 3 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.

Canisius baseball: The Golden Griffins had an 11-game winning streak snapped, 11-6, Sunday by Marist in a MAAC contest. Canisius (32-12 overall, 9-6 in the MAAC) stands fourth in the conference standings. The top four teams advance to the conference championships.

The Griffs lead the MAAC in nine offensive categories including batting average and runs per game. The pitching staff has been solid, too, leading the conference in strikeouts per nine innings (6.8) and fewest walks per nine innings (2.92). The defense has a MAAC-best fielding percentage of .969.

They have three more MAAC series – at Siena this weekend followed by home series with Niagara and Fairfield.

Niagara softball: The Purple Eagles won their program-best ninth straight game at Iona, 2-0, on Sunday in New Rochelle before losing the nightcap, 4-3.

Niagara is only 14-26 overall but is 9-7 in the MAAC, tied for fifth with Manhattan.

What’s been the key? Pitching, particularly from junior Jennifer Sansano. The Clarence native was named the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week with a 0.67 earned run average. She has given up 19 hits while striking out 48 batters in about 31 innings.

She leads the MAAC in strikeouts (154) and in earned run average in conference games (1.33). Overall, she is second in the MAAC in ERA (2.09), opponents’ batting average (.209) and innings pitched (134).

Niagara closes out its regular season with a non-conference series against UMBC (9-40); there’s a doubleheader at noon Saturday and a single game at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Around campus

The University at Buffalo women’s rugby team, a club program, advanced to the national final four of the 2013 Emirates Airline USA Rugby Women’s Collegiate DII National Championship. Buffalo will play Washington State in one semifinal today and Winona State and Quinnipiac will meet in the other in Stanford, Calif. Buffalo went undefeated in the regular season, then defeated AIC, 19-10, and Lock Haven, 44-0, to advance to the championship weekend.

Genesee Community College is making its third straight trip to the NJCAA national championships in men’s lacrosse. GCC (13-1) is ranked second in the nation and earned a bye to the National Final Four May 11-12 in Garden City, N.J.

email: amoritz@buffnews.com