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Canisius women's lacrosse to face Niagara in MAAC semifinal


Clinching their third consecutive MAAC Regular Season Championship with a 15-10 win over Fairfield on Apr. 22, the Griffs head into championship weekend as the MAAC Tournament host. The Blue and Gold, who are riding a 10-game winning streak, ended the regular season with an 18-9 win over Niagara last Wednesday and will once again play their Battle of the Bridge rival in the semifinal round of the MAAC Championship Friday at 8 p.m. from the Demske Sports Complex. Canisius (13-4, 8-0 MAAC) and Niagara (9-9, 5-3 MAAC) will be squaring off in the first ever meeting between the two in the MAAC Chamionship semifinal round. The other semifinal matchup will feature No. 2 seed Fairfield and No. 3 seed Marist, with a start time set for 4 p.m. Friday from the Demske Sports Complex.

Nine Canisius women's lacrosse players earned All-MAAC honors, highlighted by junior Erica Evans, who was named the 2017 MAAC Midfielder of the Year, the conference announced Thursday night at its annual Women's Lacrosse Championship banquet. In addition to the awards won by the student-athletes, Canisius head coach Scott Teeter was named the 2017 BNS Sports MAAC Coach of the Year. Teeter was voted the league's coach of the year for the third-straight season and is the fourth time Teeter has been named the MAAC's Coach of the Year. Evans, along with sophomores Tessa Chad and Brenna Shanahan were named to the All-MAAC First Team. Juniors Ashley Bull, Jen Reininger, Lauren Smolensky and Rebecca VanLaeken, along with sophomore Jourdan Roemer were named to the All-MAAC Second Team. Freshman Rachel Ryan was selected to the MAAC All-Rookie Team.

The Golden Griffins have the all-time edge over Niagara 16-7, with the Blue and Gold winning the last 13 matchups. In the 18-9 season finale victory on April 26, Evans recorded a season high six goals, and tied her season high for points, with eight.  The Griffs won their 2016 matchup against the Purple Eagles by a score of 13-2.

The Golden Griffins have excelled at home this year, holding a 5-1 record at the Demske. Evans has headed the Griffs offensive attack once again this season, leading the team with 66 goals and 91 points. Evans has stacked up against national competition, totaling the third most points and goals in the NCAA this season, while ranking second in the nation in goals-per-game at 3.88. The midfielder has been a Swiss army knife this season, leading the team in ground balls (60) and caused turnovers (39), while ranking second in draw controls (54). Junior transfer Jen Reininger has been a strong addition to the club, scoring a goal in each of her 17 games. Sophomore Tessa Chad ranks second on the team with 47 goals and has posted ten-straight multi-goal games. She also has three-or-more goals in eight of her last 10 games.

Evans has continued her strong play during her junior year, as she is currently tied for third in the NCAA in goals (66) and points (91). The Peterborough, Ontario native has the seventh most ground balls in the nation (60) and is tied for the 12th most caused turnovers in the NCAA (39). Evans also has the second highest goals-per-game (3.88) and fourth best points-per-game (5.35) in the NCAA. The midfielder leads the MAAC in goals, points, ground balls and game-winning goals (4), while having the second most caused turnovers, fifth most draw controls and sixth most assists in the conference. Evans has set school records for both goals and points by a junior and needs one point to break her school record of 91 set a year ago. The junior was selected as the MAAC Midfielder of the Year for the third straight season at Thursday evenings banquet. She was also named to the All-MAAC first team for the third straight season at the banquet.

The Griffs have had great success in MAAC play this season, winning all eight regular season games against conference foes. The Griffs have now won 24 straight MAAC regular-season contests dating back to the 2014 season. The team has had little trouble with conference competitors, outscoring their MAAC opponents 149-53 this season. The Griffs lead the MAAC in several statistical categories, scoring offense (15.65), points-per-game (22.94), scoring margin (6.12), shot percentage (.525), assists-per-game (7.29), shots on (.502) and win percentage (.765).

The Golden Griffins have taken advantage of their scoring opportunities this season, scoring on over half of their shots, leading in the nation in shot percentage at .525. Reininger has converted on an extraordinary amount of scoring chances this season, ranking first in the nation in shot percentage, scoring on 65.5 percent of her shots. Canisius ranks in the top-10 nationally in several offensive categories, 7th in scoring offense (15.65), 8th in scoring margin (6.12) and 9th in points-per-game (22.94).

The Griffs have four players that have reached the 50 point plateau this season. Evans (91), Roemer (62), Chad (54) and Smolensky (52) have all surpassed the fifty-point mark. The Griffs are the only team in the MAAC Championship to have reached the feat.

Reininger has excelled for Canisius since transfering from Syracuse in the offseason. The junior has scored in all 17 of her games with the Golden Griffins. She has made the most of her scoring opportunities, leading the NCAA in shot percentage at .655. Reininger also ranks fifth on the roster with her 47 points, posting 38 goals and nine assists.

Bull has been a major factor to the Griffs success this season, leading the team with 75 draw controls. The Griffs are 12-1 this season when Bull has recorded multiple draw controls. Bull has had four draw controls or more in each of her last six games. Bull has also picked up a draw in each of her last 14 games played.

The Griffs have three players with at least 25 assists, Smolensky (39), Roemer (26) and Evans (25). Canisius has recorded seven assists-or-more in nine games this season, winning each contest. The Griffs lead the MAAC in assists and rank 14th in the category nationally. All three of the Griffs top feeders rank inside the top six for assists in the conference.

In the 25-11 win over Siena on April 5, Evans passed former Griffs Megan Oosting and Tori Quinn for the most goals in program history. Evans became the youngest ever Griff to hold the career goals record, completing the achievement in only her junior season. With her second goal in the 18-3 victory over Monmouth, Evans became the fifth player in Canisius program history to reach the 200-point barrier. Junior Ashley Bull broke the Canisius career draw control record in an 18-5 win over Iona on April 1, passing former Griff Megan Oosting. Bull also broke the Canisius single-game draw control record, with 12, in a 18-3 win over Monmouth on April 8. Smolensky set the Canisius single-game assist record in the team's 18-12 win over Binghamton on February 28.