Face-up defense held down Maria Kotas’ scoring but the Canisius senior midfielder from Lancaster still managed to play a major role Sunday in the Golden Griffins’ fourth straight Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference women’s lacrosse championship.
The Griffs (12-6) defeated MAAC regular-season co-champion Marist, 11-9, at the Demske Sports Complex to continue their conference lacrosse dynasty and earn a date against Penn (12-4) in College Park, Md., on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Division I tournament. The Canisius-Penn winner will meet host and No. 1 seed Maryland on Sunday.
Canisius is 0-3 in NCAA Tournament play, suffering one-goal losses in its last two appearances – at Massachusetts (13-12) in 2012 and No. 7 ranked Penn State (14-13) last season.
Although she was held to just two points (a goal and an assist), Kotas caused six turnovers and eight draw controls, both high for a Canisius player in the MAAC playoffs. She earned tournament MVP honors for the second year in a row and made the all-tournament team for the fourth straight year, the only time that has been accomplished. Kotas tied the Canisius record with 79 points for the season, 54 goals and 25 assists.
Joining her on the all-tournament team were junior attacks Tori Quinn and Meghan Cuddy, sophomore attack Taylor Giglio and freshman midfielder Ashley Heisler. Quinn scored four goals while Giglio and Dudley had three tallies each in the victory. Goalkeeper Kayla Quinn made seven saves.
Canisius trailed, 2-0, early but took command with four unanswered goals in the middle of the game, one with 9 seconds left in the first half by Quinn and three to start the second half by Cuddy, Quinn and Kotas. Marist closed to within one before goals by Cuddy and Giglio restored the three-goal advantage with 5:14 to play.
“I thought the way we came out of the locker room was outstanding and the difference in the game,” Canisius coach Scott Teeter said. “We also did a phenomenal job of making adjustments today.”
BASEBALL: Riding the hot bat of Connor Panas, Canisius took over first place in the conference standings and clinched a berth in the MAAC Championship later this month with its eighth victory in a row, a 7-5 come-from-behind victory over Quinnipiac in Hamden, Conn.
The Griffs scored four runs in the ninth to earn a sweep of the weekend series against the Bobcats. Canisius trailed, 4-3, going into the ninth. Mike Krische led off with a walk, moved around on a sacrifice and steal and came home on a wild pitch. Two more walks and an infield single by Brett Siddall scored the lead run. A bases-loaded walk and an infield hit by Anthony Massicci produced two more runs.
Pannas homered twice and drove in four runs for Canisius. In the three-game series, Panas went 8 for 11 with 10 RBIs. He had 18 total bases, including three home runs and a double. The junior infielder from Toronto is batting .352 for the season with six homers, and 13 doubles and 41 RBIs in 42 games.
SOFTBALL: Holly Luciano and Hayley Barrow hit solo home runs to back the five-hit pitching of Tori Speckman in the University at Buffalo’s 2-1 victory at Kent State. It wrapped up the Mid-American Conference East Division title and clinched a No. 2 seed in the conference tournament for coach Trena Peel’s team.
Luciano homered in the first, but Kent tied it with a homer by Kim Kirkpatrick in its first at-bat. Barrow led off the fifth with her home run and Speckman pitched out of a bases-loaded situation in the sixth to preserve the lead.