Poughkeepsie, N.Y. – Trailing most of the game, the Canisius College women’s lacrosse team rallied to win its third-straight MAAC Championship, taking the 2013 crown with a 10-9 win at Marist on Sunday afternoon. Canisius, who improved to 14-4 on the season, now advances to the NCAA Tournament for the third-straight season. The bracket is set to be revealed Sunday night at 9 p.m. on NCAA.com.
Canisius is the first school in conference history to win three-straight MAAC Women’s Lacrosse Championships and the team’s 14th win of the season also matches a school record.
Junior Maria Kotas dominated the second half of play to lead the Griffs comeback, earning MAAC Tournament MVP honors. The junior captain scored four goals in the second 30 minutes of action, while also collecting six draw controls in the second half. Overall, Kotas’ four tallies matched her career high, while her seven total draw controls during the game are two more than her previous career best.
“We did a great job today of keeping our focus and sticking to our game plan against a tough Marist squad,” said Canisius head coach Scott Teeter. “We made some adjustments at halftime and I thought our team really got re-energized by the changes. With the game on the line, our big players really stepped it up a notch to play their best lacrosse and that was huge for us. We’re definitely going to enjoy this and we look forward to the challenges ahead next weekend in the NCAA Tournament.”
Senior Morgan Leonard, sophomore Meghan Cuddy and freshmen Ashley Bull and Brenna Murray also joined Kotas on the MAAC All-Tournament Team.
Leonard finished the contest with three points, two goals and one assist in the win, while Cuddy also added a tally for the Griffs. Bull totaled six ground balls, four draw controls and one caused turnover during the weekend, including two ground balls, one draw control and one caused turnover on Sunday. Murray was once again key for Canisius in the draw circle. After losing eight of the game’s first 10 draws, Murray helped swing the battle toward the Griffs with Canisius winning seven of the last 11 draw controls.
Senior Lindsey Morgan also added two tallies for the Griffs, while sophomore Tori Quinn recorded two points on a goal and an assist.
Sophomore Kayla Scully earned the victory between the pipes, recording six saves for the Griffs.
The Marist (9-10) defense was the story of the first 30 minutes of action, holding Canisius to its second-lowest first-half goal total of the season and its fewest tallies since the season opener at Louisville. Morgan opened the scoring in the game, netting a free-position goal just 90 seconds into the contest to become the sixth player in school history to score her 100th career goal.
However, it was all Marist for the next 20-plus minutes as the Red Foxes built a lead. The Griffs would go scoreless for the next 24:13 as Marist buried four goals of its own for a 4-1 lead. Cuddy finally stopped the bleeding for Canisius, finishing off a feed from Leonard, but it was the Red Foxes who headed into the intermission with a 4-2 lead.
Canisius came out much stronger in the second stanza and slowly got back into the game. After the teams traded goals to start the second half, Leonard fought through a faceguard to score two goals in a 57-second span to tie the game at five. Marist, however, answered right back and Leonard was then whistled for her second yellow card of the game, forcing the MAAC Midfielder of the Year to miss the final 18:10 of the championship game.
The Red Foxes added to their lead with a tally with 13:21 remaining in the game but Kotas scored a free-position goal just 18 seconds later and Morgan then added a free-position tally of her own to tie the game at seven with 12:11 left in the contest.
Marist would take its final timeout of the game and then quickly reclaimed the lead after the break in the action. Amanda Tuck won the ensuing draw control and ran past the Canisius defense, finishing her opportunity for an 8-7 lead just 11 seconds following Morgan’s tying goal. Quinn answered back for the Griffs only to see Marist’s Kirsten Viscount give the Red Foxes the lead once again, 9-8, with 8:22 left in regulation.
Bull won the ensuing draw control for Canisius and after Quinn hit a post on a free-position attempt, Kotas netted an unassisted goal with 6:56 left in the game to knot the contest at nine. The junior then won the next draw control and once again took matters into her own hands with an unassisted tally with 3:21 remaining, giving the Griffs their first lead of the game, 10-9, since the early stages when the score was 1-0. Kotas then added her career-best seventh draw control of the game following the tally and Canisius killed the remaining time, aided by a Marist yellow card, to win its third-straight MAAC Championship.
The Griffs finished the contest with a 30-21 advantage in shots and a 16-14 edge in ground balls, while Marist won the draw-control battle, 12-9.
Tuck and Viscount both led the Red Foxes with three goals on the afternoon, while Ashley Casiano recorded seven saves in net.
Canisius now awaits its opponent in the 26-team NCAA Tournament. The Griffs fell to nationally-ranked Massachusetts in each of the past two seasons in a play-in contest (to a 16-team bracket), including a 13-12 setback last season.
Game Notes: Canisius and Marist have met in five of the last six MAAC Tournaments with the Red Foxes now claiming three of the five contests. The schools played in the title game for the first time with the previous four contests in the semifinals … Kotas has now been named to the MAAC All-Tournament Team in each of her three seasons at Canisius … Kotas’ seven draw controls matches the school’s postseason record set by Megan Oosting in each of the last two MAAC Championships … It also marked the fourth time in Kotas’ career that she scored four goals in a single contest … The Griffs’ 14 wins this season matches the school record set by the 2011 squad.